Glenrothes papermill firebug is hunted by police after blaze

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Police want to interview a man spotted lurking near a Glenrothes paper mill where a series of blazes caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage, reports MIKE DELANEY.

It’s part of a major probe in to the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding the fires which were apparently set at Tullis Russell early last Tuesday morning.

Detective Inspector Charlie Duncan, who is leading the investigation, said: “I would appeal to members of the public who may have been in or around the area of ASDA supermarket on Fullerton Road about 2.30am on Tuesday, 27 December to contact the police.

“Whilst the store itself was closed, we are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen a man loitering in the area shortly before the fires were discovered.

“We are acting on the belief that the person responsible entered the confines of Tullis Russell from the car park adjacent to ASDA.

“It may be the case that the individual responsible walked to ASDA from the town centre area around 2am.

“We are appealing to anyone who recalls a friend or family member being out around that time, possibly returning home in the early hours.

“There is a possibility that the person’s clothing would have been smoke-damaged, or at the very least smelling of smoke.

“Whilst Fife Fire and Rescue were quickly in attendance, this malicious act has caused several hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to stock stored within the warehouses at Tullis Russell.”

Police and fire crews were called to the mill around 3.40 after security staff spotted flames coming from a warehouse, but on arrival found not one fire, but several.

At the height of the oprtation, 40 firefighters in eight appliances - including units from Glenrothes Fire Station - were at the scene and by the time they had brought the blazes under control a large quantity of raw paper had been destroyed.

Police and fire crews are working jointly on the investigation into the fires, which were also tackled by mill staff using fork lift trucks to remove bales.

Mill managing director, Steve Moss, paid tribute to staff and members of the emergency services for a quick response which he believed minimised damage at the site.

“Thankfully, no employees, or members of the emergency services have been injured in dealing with the incident and, at this point, the main plant and equipment of the mill is believed to be undamaged,” he added.

Fires are not uncommon at paper mills and there was a smaller blaze at Tullis Russell in August which is also thought to have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to telephone Fife Police on 0845 600 5702, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where all calls are treated anonymously and informants may be eligible for a reward.