A PUB landlord believes a fire which was started in the grounds of his pub was the work of arsonists.

A PUB landlord believes a fire which was started in the grounds of his pub was the work of arsonists.

Trevor Partt, 60, owner of the Rivermill Tavern in Eaton Socon, told The Hunts Post he has been left frustrated by fire investigators who concluded that the fire, on Monday, January 3, was accidental.

Neighbours discovered the fire at about 5.15am and called the emergency services after noticing flames billowing from the smoking shelter outside the 19th century building, which sits on the banks of the River Great Ouse.

They also alerted pub employee Clive Gosnell, 52, who lives in the flat above the pub.

The 4ft by 4ft shelter, which was made to specification and imported from Italy, was wrecked.

Mr Partt said he expected the damage to run to £6,000.

After putting out the fire and surveying the debris, fire officers concluded that the blaze was accidental.

But Mr Partt, who lives in Great Paxton, is convinced the blaze was started deliberately.

“I definitely think this is suspicious. The fire was started at about 5am, it was damp and there was no garden furniture or ashtrays left out to catch fire.

“We have an isolation box to protect the electrics which are fitted into the umbrella, so there is no way the fire could have started because of an electrical fault.”

Mr Partt added: “It’s quite devastating. We had only recently sent the umbrella to Germany for a service, and got it back in September, only for this to happen.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service Neil Newberry, told The Hunts Post: “When investigating the cause of fires, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service must be sure beyond reasonable doubt that a fire is not accidental before listing it as deliberate.

“Without enough evidence, a fire investigator cannot speculate on the cause of a fire, and where there is not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the fire was deliberate, it will be listed as accidental.”

Despite his frustration, Mr Partt was quick to throw his support behind fire officers who responded to the blaze.

He added: “I’d like to thank the fire brigade for the way they responded and everything they did.”

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