Arson probe launched after former Sunderland college building blaze
Detectives have confirmed that they are treating a blaze which tore through a former college site in Sunderland as arson.
Fire broke out at the former Thornbeck College building in the Carley Hill area of the city shortly before 4.30pm on Saturday.
The first floor and the roof of the building were severely damaged in the blaze, which took several hours to put out.
Residents living nearby were urged by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police to keep their doors and windows closed, as it was believed the property may contain asbestos.
Firefighters were seen using aerial ladder platforms to spray water onto the top of the building and dampen the fire.
The North East Ambulance Service’s hazardous area response team was also called out to the scene.
The building had previously been the Carley Hill part of the old Thornhill Park School before becoming Thornbeck College.
Thankfully, no-one was in the building at the time that the fire broke out.
Police have now confirmed that they are treating the incident as arson and officers are appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information which may be of use to them as part of the investigation.
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A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At around 5.45pm on Saturday, July 28, police received a report of a fire at a derelict building on Emsworth Road, Sunderland.
“Emergency services attended and the fire was extinguished.
“Nobody was in the building at the time, but residents in the Carley Hill and Southwick areas of Sunderland were advised to keep windows and doors closed after it was ascertained the building may have contained asbestos.
“Police are treating the fire as suspected arson, and would ask anyone who saw anything suspicious at the time of the incident to come forward.”
A spokeswoman for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “Crews from South Shields, Farringdon, Gosforth and Marley Park attended the fire at Thornbeck College, Carley Hill Road in Sunderland on Saturday.
“We had four fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms with nine breathing apparatus and used positive pressure ventilation to put the fire out.
“Firefighters arrived at 4.25pm and left at 11.10pm.
“The first floor and roof were severely damaged by fire.
“The fire investigation is still ongoing.”
Anyone with information should contact Northumbria Police on the non-emergency 101 line quoting reference 898 280718 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.