Teenagers arrested in Cumbria church arson probe

| December 1, 2009

Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of arson after a blaze gutted a historic church on the outskirts of Carlisle – causing £500,000 of damage.

Flames ripped through a basement boiler room into the main body and roof of St Andrew’s Church in Thursby yesterday morning.

The vestry, organ and altar have all been destroyed at the 160-year-old church.

Teenagers, aged 15 and 18, have been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire.

The 15-year-old, a girl from Carlisle, was arrested yesterday afternoon and was bailed until 3pm today.

The 18-year-old, a boy from Carlisle, was arrested shortly after and has been held in custody.

A crew of firefighters battled for more than an hour to control the flames after they were called out at 7am.

The fire has left parts of the building instable.

Last night a search an rescue team from Lancashire – experts in working in disaster situations – were called in check the building.

It is thought the cost of repairs could be between £250,000 and £500,000.

The Rev Norman Robinson, who has been at the church for 12 years, said the material cost of the damage would run into hundreds of thousands but the symbolic loss would be a hard hit for the community. He said it could be a year before the church would be open to the public again.

Mr Robinson told the News and Star: “The organ is destroyed. The vestry is burned through and the roof is no more.

“There is a horrible smell inside the church and the smoke has stained everything black.

“The whole thing is just starting to sink in.”

Mr Robinson added that some items were salvaged including the Book of Remembrance.

He said: “The safe is still in the corner of the vestry. The rest of the floor has disappeared around it but we are hoping that the church records and the silver used in communion are safe inside.

“It is not safe enough to check at the moment.”



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Category: Church Security

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