Arsonists cause £500k damage to bodyshop

Arsonists have caused an estimated half a million pounds worth of damage, after setting light to cars at a bodyshop in Heywood.

Firefighters were called to the scene at the insurance repair centre in Heywood Distribution Park at around midnight, after an internal system from a BMW car alerted staff that it was on fire.

Around 20 privately owned cars, which were at the repair centre in connection with Direct Line insurance company, were destroyed in the blaze.

Heywood watch manager Pete Fletcher said: “When we got there, there were probably already about 10 cars on fire, but because of the intensity of the heat the fire was spreading from vehicle to vehicle. ‘Some of the vehicles were worth about £50,000 and were only in for minor repairs, but now they’re completely written off.’

Fire crews from Heywood and Whitefield spent more than three hours tackling the blaze and damping down the premises. CCTV footage shows people smashing up the car windows before setting light to several vehicles. A joint investigation is underway between the fire service and police.

Detective Inspector Lee Hopwood said: ‘A large number of cars have been destroyed by fire causing upwards of half a million pounds damage to privately owned vehicles. The investigation is ongoing and we are currently studying CCTV.

‘These people have gone around smashing windows before setting the vehicles alight. These are all individual victims – people who have had their own cars destroyed.’

Detective Constable Jason Ruff added, ‘This is a terrible incident that has left a local business facing substantial repair costs. We are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area around the time the initial call was made to police or even shortly after.’