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Wheelie bin fire terrifies pensioner

PUBLISHED: 16:08 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 13:55 21 May 2010

A LODDON pensioner has been left frightened and unable to sleep after a lucky escape from a fire which started in her wheelie bin.

Maria Edwards, 88, was woken at 5am on Monday morning by firemen who had been called to a blaze in the gas meter box outside her bungalow in The Walks, Loddon.

A LODDON pensioner has been left frightened and unable to sleep after a lucky escape from a fire which started in her wheelie bin.

Maria Edwards, 88, was woken at 5am on Monday morning by firemen who had been called to a blaze in the gas meter box outside her bungalow in The Walks, Loddon.

Neighbouring houses were also evacuated because it was feared that the fire, which had spread from Mrs Edwards' wheelie bin, could cause the gas mains to explode.

The blaze was put out before the gas pipes caught light, but Mrs Edwards said that the fire could have been much worse if a passing milkman had not spotted the smoke and dialled 999. She said that the fire has left her “frightened to go to bed” in case something similar happens again.

Her grand-daughter Anna Cook, who was woken by a phone call from her grandmother at 5.15am, said: “There have been several wheelie bins set alight and sooner or later someone is going to get killed or injured. If the gas mains had caught light, the whole place could've exploded. We're just lucky it wasn't more serious.”

Miss Cook said that her elderly grandmother spent a day without central heating while she waited for the meter box to be replaced. She added: “It has really shaken her up. Her first thought when I got here was 'Who would want to do this to me?' She doesn't sleep well at the best of times and now she'll worry even more. I doubt whether she'll even go to bed.”

Graham Joy, Norfolk fire service's temporary station manager for south Norfolk, said that wheelie bin fires need to be taken seriously. He said: “We have had one or two wheelie bin fires around Loddon occurring at a similar time in the morning, so there is the potential that these are linked. We are working with the police to look into this and we will take all the necessary precautions to prevent more fires being started.

“Some people might see it as just a bit of fun, but obviously it could lead to a serious fire and cause injury to people in the property. As well as it being illegal to set fire to wheelie bins, the offenders should know that it could become a much more serious incident which will have bigger repercussions if they are caught.”

Anyone with information should contact Norfolk police on 0845 4564567.

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