A FIRE that destroyed a post office and forced people to evacuate the flats above could be the latest in a number of arson attacks, say police.
Thirty people escaped their homes with 19 of them taking refuge at Harrow Arts Centre, in Uxbridge Road, Hatch End, after Capital Car Factors, a tyre shop in Long Elmes, Harrow Weald, caught alight at 2.40am on Sunday.
The flames quickly spread to the post office and a convenience store called Sitals next door and firefighters had to work quickly to stop the fire from spreading as there were cylinders in the building, which could have exploded.
London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent, Councillor Navin Shah (Labour), said: “On arriving at the incident site, I was relieved that no one was hurt and the fire was so quickly put out. A couple of residents and shopkeepers were very concerned that the same shop had been subject to a couple of fires in the last three years.
“This is very worrying and I’ve asked the fire authority to investigate this and also see whether anything can be done to safeguard properties from fire risks poised by cylinders in storage boilers.
“It appears that there have been a spate of fires in this area, which is another worry.”
Forty firefighters from eight fire stations extinguished the flames by 6.35am but both premises were severely damaged.
Harrow CID is investigating the cause of Sunday’s blaze and whether or not it is linked to eight other suspected arson attacks on cars, skips and a charity building – thought to be started by the same person. No one has been arrested.
A Harrow Police spokesman said: “There has been a linked series of arsons close to the area and there is a possibility that this fire may be connected.”
Carl St Paul, a London Fire Brigade’s spokesman, said: “Crews worked well to get the fire under control and to confine it to the ground floor of the property.
“There were cylinders in the building and as they can explode when they are exposed to heat, locating which cylinders were involved in the fire and making them safe was our priority.”