Arson probe after blaze at former Ilkeston factory site

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A blaze which ripped through a derelict Ilkeston industrial site is believed to have been started deliberately, police have said.

But while residents have said the crime is inexcusable, it is a relief something will now be done about the former Gardner Aerospace factory.

Firefighters battled the massive fire at the Cotmanhay Road site on March 15. The fire broke out on the second floor at around 9.30pm, which saw residents including Louisa Browne advised to stay indoors.

She said: “I happened to look out the window and all I could see was orange, so I went out to see what was going on and if I could help, but firefighters and police told me to get back inside.

“It was very dramatic and scary, but now it has all died down and we know no one was injured, I can’t say I’m too upset.

“It is disgusting if someone has set fire to the place, but to be honest it is about time the site was sorted – it has just been sat there – an absolute eyesore.”

Fellow resident Robin Haywood added: “I thought it was only a matter of time until someone did something to it. It’s basically been asking for trouble having an empty site sat there for years going to rack and ruin.”

Gardener Aerospace announced in 2011 that it had secured a multi-million pound deal to relocate its headquarters from Cotmanhay Road to a new site in Victory Park, Sinfin.

Councillor for Awsworth Road James Dawson said he also believed the site had been an easy target.

He said: “I personally have received many complaints over the years about the site, so whilst it is unacceptable that this potential crime has been committed, I believe the community will be relieved that something will now be done about the site.

“It is a fairly big site but since Gardner Aerospace moved out of the site it has been a bone of contention with the local community.

“It has stood empty since then and has been a target for vandalism and anti-social behaviour. I believe there are now outline plans for a housing development on site.”

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue said that following the fire, an investigation was not possible due to the danger presented by the remaining unstable building structure, and that it was now in the hands of the police.

Demolition took place the following day to avoid risk to pedestrians or motorists.

A police spokesman added: “I can confirm the fire is being treated as suspected arson and that the building has been demolished. Anyone with information should call 101, quoting reference 17000112488.”