Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Fire destroys charity warehouse in Bournemouth

A nearby resident filmed the fire on his mobile phone

Hundreds of items of furniture set to be given to disadvantaged families have been destroyed after fire ripped through the headquarters of a charity.

Up to 70 firefighters were called to tackle the fire at the warehouse at Dorset Reclaim, in Stanley Road, Bournemouth, at 0400 GMT.

The charity has supplied furniture and white goods to help people on low incomes for more than 10 years.

Police believe the fire was started deliberately and are investigating.

It's just heartbreaking
Ray Tovey

Residents living close to the scene were evacuated from their homes when the fire broke out inside the two-storey building.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said that the building was "unstable" and some brick pillars were coming away from the structure.

Ray Tovey, project manager for Dorset Reclaim, said that volunteers often trained inside the building and that the team had been left "devastated".

He said: "The building was up in smoke and it's just gutted.

"It has grown for 11 years now and it has been a real success story. It's just heartbreaking.

"We are going to have to really work hard to get this up and running again."

Asbestos risk

The building is used as the headquarters of the charity, which has three other premises in Dorset.

Mr Tovey added that about 400 beds, 50 three-piece suites and up to 100 appliances had been destroyed, as well as computers and office furniture.

The Environment Agency was also informed of the fire because of a possible risk of asbestos from the warehouse.

Dorset Police said residents were able to return to their homes from about 0630 GMT.

Det Con Liz Westaway said: "Dorset Reclaim provides employment to a number of local residents and the charity is valued greatly by its surrounding communities.

"It may be that someone, or several people, recalls someone loitering nearby, or perhaps a vehicle parked up in the vicinity.

"I am determined to bring the offenders to justice."

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