Arson probe in Gibraltar

LAST UPDATED: 25 Apr, 2012 @ 12:33
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Arson probe in Gibraltar

EXCLUSIVE by Eloise Horsfield

POLICE believe an arsonist may have started two house fires in Gibraltar in the space of just two weeks.

It comes after one Gibraltar resident slammed the housing authorities after squatters apparently caused a fire that burnt down his home.

Police confirmed they were investigating the possibility of arson, after James Rae’s flat was completely gutted during an early morning blaze last month.

A spokesman for the Royal Gibraltar Police Emilio Acris confirmed: “We are treating the fire as suspected arson.”

He added: “We are investigating a possible link between the fire and another on  March 16 in the same area, for which two people have been charged.”

Rae, 42, originally from Bournemouth, is angry that the fire occurred after the authorities failed to act when squatters apparently moved into his block.

The DJ and barber insists he reported seeing candles and hearing noises coming from a neighbouring flat. However, nothing was done.

The Castle Ramp resident, who is being temporarily housed in a local hotel,  slammed the Gibraltar Housing Ministry for how it has dealt with his case.

In particularly, he is furious it failed to secure the property after the fire, despite police insistence.

“When I went round later the window grill was still hanging off and I’m sure it had been looted,” he said.

His girlfriend Kate Gooding, 44, who works for TRE radio station, added: “The whole thing is horrific. James has lost everything, all his worldly possessions.”

She also slammed the general state of the Castle Ramp area, where several flats are being squatted.

“It’s disgusting,” said Kate. “The area is going to wrack and ruin and it is easy for squatters to get in because the houses aren’t boarded up properly.

“I’ve seen people coming up James’ staircase who look like they are on heroin and a dead body was even found recently,” she said.

Gibraltar Housing Ministry was unavailable for comment.

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