Call for arson target to be demolished

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A derelict building which has become a target for vandals and arsonists may soon be demolished by its new owners.

Firefighters were called out to the old Maccess building on Spen Lane in Gomersal shortly after 8pm on Saturday night following reports that the former office block was ablaze with children playing inside.

Crews extinguished the fire but found no-one inside the building. The exact cause has not been confirmed but there were reported sightings of youngsters at the site earlier in the evening.

The West Yorkshire Fire Service say they have been called out to the site on numerous occasions recently months and have now established contact with the owners, who are believed to be considering knocking the building down.

Watch commander Jonathan Brants, from Batley Fire Station attended the scene on Saturday night. He and said: “The structure on the roof was well alight, but we also had reports that there were some youths inside. We committed a couple of teams in to do a search but there was nobody inside.

“The building was in a bad state of repair anyway. It’s been set on fire several times recently.

It’s just getting boarded up, but the owner is waiting to demolish it.”

If it is demolished, it would be a victory for 13-year-old schoolgirl Emily Warrillow, who has been petitioning for the eyesore to be removed since last October.

The new owners bought the property in April from property venture capitalist Mark Whitehead, who later emailed Emily to say he’d sold the building because of the pressure her campaign had exerted.

Emily said: “We’re hopeful the change of owner may mean its knocked down.”

Incident commander Tony Williams said: “We are fully aware of this building and we have recently established contact with the new owners. We will therefore be arranging with the owners to undertake an operational risk visit, which will involve the operational crew from Cleckheaton Fire Station. This action may help to safeguard firefighters if called to the same building, but it will also allow sufficient time for the new owners to restrict unwarranted access onto the site, which may prevent similar incidents from happening again.