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Third fire attack on sea front; Investigators probe blaze at office block.

Byline: By VINCE GLEDHILL

ARSON investigators are probing the cause of the third blaze in a week on a stretch of seafront land in Northumberland today.

The latest blaze broke out in a single-storey office block at the disused Vald Birn iron foundry, in Cambois, and spread to the main building.

It began just before 8pm last night and fire crews from Ashington, Blyth and Cramlington were called to tackle the outbreak.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established, but it is being treated as suspicious.

Two other fires near the factory have already been labelled as arson attacks.

The first damaged a trailer and outbuilding outside a private house and the second damaged the office of a factory making decorative stone.

Station Officer Ian Wilkinson, of Northumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It is too early to say if the Vald Birn fire was also arson, but it is being treated as suspicious.

"We have had three fires in the same area within seven days and it does look as if we are starting to get a series of arson attacks."

A police guard was at the site today, keeping it secure until the fire investigation has been carried out.

The Vald Birn foundry closed in April last year and has been out of use since then, with the loss of 157 jobs.

Last year Terry McGov-ern, an inspector at the plant, which opened in 1977, said workers had pinned their hopes on the plant being sold to another buyer or becoming a satellite production centre for its Danish parent compan y.

"Closing the place was the worst of the three options for it and the one nobody expected," he said.

"Everybody had their hopes pinned on it becoming a satellite production centre. But it seems that after pouring money into the plant for years, the parent company in Denmark has finally said enough is enough."

Notices behind the perimeter fence warn that the site is private property and add a special appeal to parents to keep children off the site because of the potential risk to them.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2007
Words:352
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