A FIREFIGHTER has warned parents their children are putting themselves in serious danger following yet another arson attack at a derelict mill.
Watch commander Colin Brown from Cleckheaton fire station said parents should keep their children away from the old Victoria Dyeworks in Hightown following a large blaze on Monday night.
He said the site, previously home to Harrison Gardners, was dangerous, and it was only a matter of time before someone was badly hurt.
He said: “It’s a playground for them but it’s a rat warren of tunnels and holes and it’s dangerous. We are constantly having incidents here and it’s a nightmare to secure it.”
Mr Brown said his watch alone was turning out to the site up to four times a week as arsonists set fire to the empty buildings – a huge drain on fire service resources.
The site has stood empty for several years and planning permission is currently being sought to turn it into homes, a nursing home, industrial units and a mini-supermarket.
Mr Brown said the fire service was called at 9.50pm on Monday. The fire was in a brick building on part of the site in Miry Lane, which may now need to be demolished.
Most concerning was the risk to people’s lives for no reason, he said: “People are putting themselves at risk gaining access, and often starting fires that put firefighters at risk. It’s worrying for us putting firefighters at risk, it’s worrying for residents and the sooner it’s developed, the better.”
Surinder Singh Sidhu, who owns Hightown off-licence next to the site, said he heard what he thought was a firework.
“This happens every week but this one was very dangerous. We could smell smoke in the house. The kids can’t play outside and people are scared at night,” he said.
Chris Bailey, who lives opposite, said his girlfriend heard the sound of fireworks and kids laughing.
He said: “I got home at about 11pm and the fire engines were there. They stayed all night.”
Neighbour Dawn Smith said: “I heard shouting and then the fire engines arrived.
“My husband saw the flames coming through the roof. We have had this several times – it’s a constant nuisance.
“We see the fire engines and say, ‘it’s the mill again’.”
Owner David Harrison said: “It was a very sad sight on Tuesday. We are constantly trying to keep the premises safe but people keep breaking in and making a nuisance of themselves.
“We are doing our best to make sure it is safe and sound.”
Mr Harrison said the planning application would hopefully be discussed by Kirklees Council in May.
He said: “We are desperate to make progress. Once we get permission we want to go forward.”