Ottery tar barrel blast plea

THE object that caused a Tar Barrel to explode and engulf helpless spectators in a fireball has not been found. Police are missing this key piece of evidence which they hope will lead to the person, labelled as a mindless moron , who caused the horrific

THE object that caused a Tar Barrel to explode and engulf helpless spectators in a fireball has not been found.

Police are missing this key piece of evidence which they hope will lead to the person, labelled as a "mindless moron", who caused the horrific blast at Ottery's Factory site on Thursday, November 5.

A dozen people suffered burns to their faces and hands after the ferocity of the explosion knocked people off their feet and flaming-hot tar spewed out of the drum at around 10.15pm.

Investigating officer DC Ian Tyers told the Herald: "We are really keen to find anybody with information about what happened to the container when it was removed from the barrel."

Police have ruled out normal deodorant cans or 'fart gas' and believe the object was industrial size paint spray- around 12 to 18 inches long and three to five inches in diameter.

DC Tyers added: "We have information to suggest that it was taken out of the barrel after the fireball and kicked to the side of the road- it may have been cleared up the following day."

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Tar Barrel organisers met with detectives this week and verbal statements were taken but police are still desperately appealing for people, who witnessed the explosion, to come forward.

"We don't have any witnesses who actually saw the object thrown in the barrel," said DC Tyers.

"We don't want people sitting on information which they think other people have told us."

He urged witnesses with video or photographic evidence to come forward and has praised Tar Barrel organisers, who have been of "great assistance" to police.

Graham Rowland, Ottery Carnival Committee chairman, said he is remaining positive about the future of the tradition but is now concentrating on catching the culprit.

He told the Herald: "We are carrying on as normal and doing everything we can to continue next year. The appeal for information is carrying on and that's what we are focusing on."

Mr Rowland has been in contact with victims of the explosion who have all shown their support for the event.

He added: "People have even been stopping me on the street- we have all been overwhelmed with the amount of support shown."

A 'de-brief' meeting between organisers, emergency services and other agencies is expected to take place before Christmas which will look at ways to improve safety for next year's Tar Barrels.

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