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£500K home hit by fire during burglary
12:20pm Tuesday 20th August 2013 in Echo News
A £500,000 home which had been renovated and put on sale was torched during a burglary while its owners were on holiday.
Essex Fire and Rescue were alerted to the blaze in the first floor of the five bedroom house in Manor Road, Benfleet, by a mystery caller.
Firefighters, who arrived to tackle it at about 6.40am on Saturday, then phoned police after it became clear the house was empty, but there were signs of intruders breaking in.
It is not clear if burglars started the fire by accident, while ripping out electrical equipment, including a television, or if it was arson.
Bill Moulding, 91, who lives next door, said: “It is a quiet road normally. Police blocked the road off. There were concerns about some toxic fumes.
“The owner was away in France and the police got in touch, so he is coming back.
“The police came here and asked if I saw anything. They said it could have been an electrical fire during the burglary.”
An Essex Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The cause of the fire is unknown.
“The fire service and police will carryout an investigation.”
An Essex Police spokesman said: “The property was empty and it appears burglars set fire to it after stealing various items. An investigation is now under way to identify the thieves and how the fire was started.”
Any witnesses should call officers at Rayleigh police station on 101.
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