Bradford Paper Mill Fire Deemed 'Deliberate'

Harris Court Mill ablaze in March.

62 firefighters dealt with the blaze at its height.

A fire that devastated a Bradford mill is believed to have been caused deliberately, and police say they are “following up several lines of enquiry regarding a possible suspect.”

More than 62 firefighters dealt with a blaze at Harris Court Mill on March 19, making it one of the biggest blazes dealt with by West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service in the 2018/19 financial year.

The fire service have now revealed that the blaze is though to have been started deliberately – and police have now taken over the investigation.

Tomorrow, members of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority will be given a report on all the fires in the area that were attended by six or more fire engines.

The fire, which started on the third floor of the Victorian paper mill, was dealt with by 62 firefighters, 10 engines from Odsal, Stanningley, Cleckheaton, Rastrick, Bingley, Halifax, Illingworth and Rawdon, aerial units from Bradford and Huddersfield, a hose layer from Mirfield, a welfare unit from Ilkley, a command unit and support from Pontefract, command assistants from Morley and rapid deployment safety crew from Keighley.

It began just before 5.30pm on Tuesday, March 19, and crews were still on the scene until the following afternoon.

After investigation by experts, the fire has been classed as deliberate.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police, which is now investigating, said: “Detectives from Bradford District CID are continuing to investigate this matter and are following up several lines of enquiry regarding a possible suspect.

“Anyone who may be able to assist enquiries is asked to contact them on 101, quoting crime reference 13190144566, or use the live chat facility on the West Yorkshire Police website.

“Information can also be reported anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”

The mill had stood empty for over a decade following the Yorkshire Envelope Company moving out. After the fire urgent work to make the building safe, including pulling down crumbling sections, was carried out.

Members of the fire authority will be given details of several other major fires to have taken place in recent months.

On March 12 a fire at Bronte Works, Sapgate Lane, Thornton, was dealt with by 32 firefighters. The building was used for vehicle repairs, and the fire is believed to have started by combustible articles being too close to a heat source.

The fire spread quickly due to strong winds and crews were called from Bingley, Odsal, Bradford, Keighley and Halifax to deal with the inferno.

The biggest fire dealt with by the service in the past 12 months was a huge blaze at DS Smith Recycling in Birstall on July 7.

Seventeen engines and 92 firefighters had been called out to deal with that incident, the cause of which is still not known, although it is believed to have been accidental.

A fire at a block of flats at Hick Lane in Batley on February 6 is believed to have been caused by a gas explosion, and involved 60 firefighters and 10 engines.

In the 12 months from March 2018 to April 2019 there were 17 incidents across West Yorkshire that required six or more engines.

This was down from 20 in 2017/18 and 34 the previous year.

Of those 17 incidents, nine required more than 10 engines.

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