Police say a big fire at the former North Wales hospital in Denbigh was started deliberately.
It took nearly five hours to put out the fire at the Grade II-listed building on Monday night – an investigation into the cause of the blaze took place on Tuesday morning but the extent of damage remains unknown.
The hospital, earmarked for future housing, has been targeted by arsonists several times over the last five years. Last September, the roof of one of the outer buildings collapsed following reports of trespassers.
Detectives have again repeated their call for trespassers to stay away from the site and have stepped up patrols around the area.
Inspector Gareth Jones said: ”Valuable resources are being tied up by people who have entered the building and started deliberate fires. Fortunately no-one has been injured as yet, but there could be serious consequences – not only is there a risk to the individuals involved, but also the officers attending could sustain serious injuries. People need to be educated about the dangers of entering this building before someone is seriously hurt or worse.”
The former psychiatric unit has been the subject of a long running legal battle between Denbighshire County Council and owners Freemont, whose plans for the site fell through. It’s currently the subject of a compulsory purchase order so that developers can press ahead with building over 200 new homes and 34 apartments.
Councillor David Smith said: ”We are truly saddened to hear about Monday night’s fire and the fact it was started deliberately beggars belief…The council and its partners have made several public appeals recently for people to keep away from the site, as parts of the structure are dangerous and there have been a number of incidents of arson at the location.”
He added: ”We also want to protect the buildings from further damage and deterioration and the fact that people enter the site and deliberately start fires is of extreme concern to us. They are not only putting their own lives at risk, but also the future of this historic building. The site remains in the ownership of an off-shore company at this moment in time, but the council has been involved in a long running campaign to secure ownership of the land, to preserve the main range historic buildings on the site and to bring about a significant heritage led regeneration project in this part of North Wales.
”That commitment remains, but deliberate incidents such as this latest fire put the safety of the building in further jeopardy. This behaviour needs to stop”.
Anyone who noticed any suspicious activity around the hospital last night should contact PC Aiden Berry at Denbigh police station on 101, quoting reference number RC17017512, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.