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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Quick thinking Carlisle taxi driver prevents gas blast at Lonsdale site

Suspected arsonists struck at the demolition site of a former cinema – narrowly avoiding an explosion.

Carlisle cherrypicker photo
Cherrypickers at work at the former Lonsdale Cinema

A gas cylinder was believed to have been set alight deliberately on a cherry picker, which was being used as part of the demolition of the old Lonsdale cinema building in Carlisle.

Firefighters from Carlisle east and west stations were scrambled to Barton’s Place, off Warwick Road, at about 2am yesterday.

They were alerted by a passing taxi driver who noticed an orange glow emanating from the vehicle.

Stuart Hook, Carlisle watch manager, said the swift response from the fire crews helped avert a potential blast.

He explained: “There were two cherry pickers on site and it appears someone had gained access and set alight to a butane gas cylinder. Two appliances from Carlisle isolated the butane and extinguished the fire but one of the cherry pickers was damaged.

“We are now looking at CCTV footage from the area as we suspect this was a malicious incident.

“Our Green Watch team carried out a very good and thorough risk assessment at the scene and isolated the supply of gas.

“Their quick actions prevented the situation from escalating further.”

Mr Hook added that no one was in the vicinity at the time of the suspected arson attack.

Cumbria police confirmed that they were aware of the incident but were not carrying out an investigation.

Oldham-based contractors PGC Demolition, who are carrying out the work on the former Lonsdale cinema, said the cherry picker involved was damaged but did not wish to make any further comment.

Demolition work began on site on January 13 and is expected to be completed by the middle of May.

The 1930s building is being reduced to rubble to make way for a temporary car park which will form part of the new Halston apartment-hotel currently being built next door.

DHemming@cngroup.co.uk

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