POLICE are on the hunt for arsonists who have left a family “heartbroken and devastated” by a fire which burned their premises to the ground.
More than 25 fire-fighters struggled to contain the raging fire which was spreading quickly due to strong winds – and at one point reached the back door of a nearby bungalow.
An aerial ladder platform was drafted in to tackle the blaze which broke out at a former agricultural engineers in Ruswarp.
While fire officers returned to the scene the following morning to investigate possible causes, police confirmed the matter had been referred to them. A police spokesperson told the Gazette that the blaze has been classed as suspected arson.
The news that it could have been started deliberately has made the incident for the Wharrick family, who have owned the premises since the 1960s, even more difficult for the family to deal with.
They were too upset to speak to the Gazette or visit the scene on Sneaton Lane but said they had been left “heartbroken and devastated.”
In 1965 Arthur Wharrick set up as an agricultural engineer and repaired, serviced and sold tractors and other farm equipment. Even up until his sudden death in 1997 he was still repairing chainsaws and strimmers.
Although the business was no longer operational the Wharrick family said they were immensely proud of it and that it had played a huge part in their lives.
Fire crews from Lythe, Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough were drafted in to help the Whitby crew.
Watch manager at Whitby, Chris Watson said: “It was totally engulfed in fire by the time we got there from left to right. We tried to make sure that we did not get any fire spreading because there is a joinery workshop next door, a garage to the left and a house to the far left which we were worried about it spreading to because of the wind. It was literally taking it right up to the back door and the owners were quite concerned.”
Newton builders, based in the same yard, said they feared it was their business that was on fire at first.
A spokesperson said: “I left at 10pm and there was nothing. Somebody phoned me to say workshops were on fire so I was panicking. The fire brigade were marvellous but worried about protecting the house.
“I went away and everything was fine, I come back and something right next to you is blazing away merrily.”
The police added they were working with the fire brigade to determine the cause.
Witnesses to the incident on Monday night, shortly after 10pm, which prompted several calls from members of the public, are asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, selecting option 2 and asking for Whitby Police.
Alternatively email Michael.Jamalizadeh@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting reference number 12130060569