The owner of a vintage lightvessel which was severely damaged in a suspected arson attack has praised the efforts of responding police and firefighters.
The historic LV18, which is moored at Harwich Quay, was damaged by one of several fires in the town on Friday 2 February.
We are treating these incidents as arson and our investigation has progressed quickly.
Tony O’Neil, from the Pharos Trust, which owns the vessel, praised the initial efforts of Essex Fire and Rescue Service at the scene and the continued support he is receiving from specialist officers.
Police and fire service response 'amazing'
Mr O'Neil said:
“We had seven fire crews here from different parts of Essex, we were overwhelmed by the emergency service response, I couldn’t believe it. “The logistics of the whole response, coordinating their efforts so quickly when we had separate fires started in other areas of Harwich at the same time, was incredible. “It took five hours to put the fire out. “In terms of the police response and aftercare, my wife and I have been treated so well. “I didn’t realise victim support would even be considered, but it was in place quickly. "We were with CID for two hours on Sunday, giving our victim statement and engaging with them. “Everybody involved in the emergency service response has been amazing.”
The 1958 vessel is unique, and its operational lantern is activated several times a year to support quayside community activities and festivals in Harwich.
Mr O’Neil added:
“It’s the only one of its kind left in its original, unaltered condition and is a major tourist attraction in Harwich. “The impact of this incident is absolutely awful. “Most of it is smoke damage, three cabins were burned out. The boat is original 1958 vintage and it is totally unique. “There are hundreds of almost priceless exhibits that have been smoke damaged, possibly beyond repair. “We had very recently installed new digital radio studios and equipment in the region of £40,000 which will certainly be written off and will urgently need to be replaced. “The two radio stations, including one new community radio station for the Harwich Haven area, had only just been launched. “We are involved in organising a huge event and celebration this coming Easter to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the start of Radio Caroline and the offshore pirate radio stations just off the coast of Harwich. “This event may now be in jeopardy as the ship and radio stations may not be able to operate.”
Christopher Parker, 33, of Alexandra Street, has been charged with four counts of arson and appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 6 February.
He was remanded in custody until a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday 5 March.
Tuesday 6 February
A man has been charged in connection with fires which damaged a historic boat, as well as one which damaged a railway station, surrounding commercial premises and nearby vehicles.
Initially, we believed the two separate fires, which both happened on Friday night (2 February) were not linked.
However, through further investigation we have now identified links between the two incidents and we are treating them as being connected.
A 33 year-old man from Harwich has been arrested in connected to both fires and has now been charged.
Christopher Parker, of Alexandra Street, has been charged with four counts of arson.
He has been remanded into custody and will appear at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Tuesday, 6 February.
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