Police 'determined' to find firing range arsonists
By Western Daily Press | Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 05:00
Police confirmed last night that the huge fire that destroyed the firearms training centre near Portishead was started deliberately – and now members of a mysterious anarchist group in Bristol are the prime suspects.
The fire at the police firearms training centre near Portishead
The blaze at the construction site of the Black Rock Quarry centre, which was nearly completed, began in the early hours of Tuesday, August 27, and was so intense it burned for four days.
Even before the fire was put out, a shadowy anarchist group claimed responsibility for the fire, posting a statement on an alternative Bristol website. The group went into fine detail on how they started the fire.
Forensic experts began to comb through the gutted remains of the fire to establish a cause, and yesterday confirmed it was arson.
"Very soon after the fire was discovered, we began a detailed and thorough investigation," said Det Supt Andy Williams, the head of Avon & Somerset's major crime investigation team. "We brought in a forensic scientist with specific expertise in the field of arson to work closely alongside our own crime scene investigation and forensic teams to get to the root cause of the fire.
"Together, they have concluded that the building was deliberately set alight.
"Our searches for forensic evidence have been carried out in the most meticulous way despite the devastation caused by the fire and our examination of the scene continues still."
The Black Rock Quarry site, in Valley Road, Portishead, was due to open within months as a bespoke training centre for firearms and Taser training for three forces – Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Avon & Somerset.
Detectives said they are determined to catch those responsible.
"We are under no illusions about the scale of the task, but we will do everything in our power to ensure those responsible are brought to justice," added Det Supt Williams.