Fairchild Close arson attacks leave residents in fear
A spate of terrifying arson attacks at night have left worried residents packing their bags and paying for CCTV and floodlights.
Fairchild Close, in Battersea, has been plagued by fires for the past six months, with people having to be evacuated in the middle of the night on more than five occasions.
One woman on the estate sleeps each night with a bag packed with clothes and her valuables in case her flat is burnt out.
In recent weeks a van, a motorbike, bins and rubbish chutes have been torched, with all the attacks occuring in the early hours within yards of peoples' homes.
Despite CCTV camers at the entrance to the close police still have no leads on who the firebug is and last week frustrated neighbours decided they will pay out of their own pockets for a CCTV camera and floodlights after landlords Wandle Housing Association allegedly refusing to cough up to protect them.
The association had promised to fix broken carpark lights in the street, but this has not yet been done.
Police numbers have since stepped up after people began to demand more action during Safer Neighbourhood Team Meetings.
Henry Gomm, 34, an office manager, said: "It has happened on and off for the last six months. The last few weeks it has been horrendous, at least once a week. It is really only the quick action of the fire-brigade that has meant that no one (as far as I know) has been hurt in these incidents. It is certainly very unsettling to have to live in our flat with these actions continuing, not least with the frequent disruption to sleep.
"The housing association have done nothing, we are trying to get together as a party. We have the problem of kids hanging out smoking pot on our doorstep - bored kids."
He said there had been more police patrols since last Thursday, with a senior police officer also visiting residents.
Kate Nagy, 32, a nanny, said: "It hasn't been nice. I have all my valuables somewhere in the middle of the night so I have everything ready.
"My partner and I have a car, we had to move it to somewhere else as there were two fires literally next to it.
"We are hoping Wandle increase security, more police patrols - that is not happening there. We are taking the matter into our own hands, we would pay for that out of our own pockets."
James Ellis, SNT inspector for Battersea, said: "There have been at least four arson incidents over the last two weeks, all in the early hours of the morning.
"The Latchmere Safer Neighbourhood Team have made extensive house to house enquiries over the past week, leafleting all local residents in an effort to identify who may be responsible.
"We are obviously concerned about the amount of incidents and the danger any arson attack presents. We have stepped up patrols in the vicinity and are working with the local council regarding the installation of a mobile CCTV camera. "
Sue Daniels, Customer Services Director at Wandle Housing Association, said: “Wandle Housing Association has been in close contact with its residents following two reported fire incidents on Fairchild Close.
"We take the safety of our residents very seriously and have worked with them to identify and repair damage to property resulting from fires that occurred on 27 June and 1 July.
“Due to concerns we met with residents on Tuesday 3 July to discuss appropriate action for increased fire safety around our development.
"A number of options were discussed and a plan created. We are in the process of completing agreed tasks.
“As part of the discussions we agreed to explore the option of installing 24 hr CCTV."
Anybody who has any information can contact Wandsworth CID on 020 3276 or Latchmere SNT on 020 8247 8609.