Security ramped up after inferno

Fire in derelict Ottery building

Fire in derelict Ottery building - Credit: Archant

An arson attack that destroyed a derelict building in Ottery has prompted its owner to install tougher security measures.

Residents were woken in the early hours of Saturday morning to the sound of flames engulfing the house opposite the former factory site.

Firefighters attended the blaze at 2.10am. It took the crews from Ottery and Honiton around six hours to get the flames under control and to safeguard the area.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “The fire was started deliberately.

“Because it was already derelict, it is hard to quantify the extent of the damage, but it was a substantial fire.”

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Chris Tregale, of Thorne Farm Way, heard the blaze and captured photographs and video.

He said: “I was woken up by this popping and crackling and then saw the blaze from the house.”

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The Edwardian building - known locally as ‘old Luxton’s house’ - was also once home to the staff from the former Salston Manor Hotel, but has been unoccupied and in a state of disrepair for a number of years.

Residents have taken to social media to express sadness at the dramatic destruction of ‘a beautiful old house’.

Dave Stevens, of Winters Lane, said: “Something had to be done to the house because it was falling into a worse state.

“It’s just a shame that it ended that way.”

Historian Peter Harris, of Sandhill Street, worked in the former factory opposite the house for 45 years. He checks up on both sites on behalf of the owners, Churchill Property Group South West Ltd.

Peter said he was not aware of the fire until he went down to the factory on Saturday morning - and later set about putting additional boards and signs up to prevent people from trespassing.

The house had been earmarked for demolition as part of a major regeneration of the whole area in which 100 homes will be built.

Plans include restoration of the Grade II listed town mill into apartments, as well as new houses to be sited at the scene of Saturday’s fire and near the Tumbling Weir Hotel.

Owner of the property and Churchill’s managing director, Paul Conway, said: “I was alerted by the security patrol company, who informed me that the fire had occurred and the fire service attended to put it out.

“The important thing is that it was put out and now further boardings have been put across what could have been used as an entrance point.

“CCTV cameras are being installed around the listed building and remaining town mill site.

He said full demolition will begin soon.

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