Plymouth police hunt two burger van arsonists
DETECTIVES probing an arson attack on a popular fast food outlet have revealed they are hunting for two men.
An intense early-hours blaze nearly razed the family-run HJ's Burger Van to the ground last month.
The North Hill outlet, a hit with late-night revellers, appeared to have been set alight by arsonists who removed a ventilation grill, stuffed tissue paper inside and set it alight.
Investigators have now revealed how a motorcycle was seen leaving the scene just moments after the fire took hold.
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Detective Constable Matt Wood, of Charles Cross CID, said two men seen riding the scrambler-type bike were being sought as suspects.
He is appealing to anyone who may have seen the pair around the time of the arson.
Burger van boss Keith Stephens is offering a £5,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.
Firefighters were called to Sherwell Arcade just before 5.30am on Wednesday, October 31.
The burger van, which has been in operation for 12 years, had closed only nine minutes before the attack.
It had cost 49-year-old Mr Stephens, from West Park, £15,000 – plus a further £3,000 to kit it out – a matter of weeks earlier.
The fire followed an incident in September where a vehicle collided with the static van.
A fridge was so badly damaged in the inferno it nearly melted away altogether and, although the van is back up and running, repairs have been costly.
DC Wood said CCTV cameras had captured footage of the motorcycle arriving at the scene from the Mutley Plain direction shortly before the fire.
It was then seen leaving at around the time the blaze was spotted, heading towards Plymouth City Centre down North Hill.
It is thought two males were riding the motorcycle.
Investigators have also been studying a navy and duck egg blue Fitness First rucksack which was found discarded at the scene.
Anyone with information about the fire, which is being treated as suspected arson, should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 quoting log number 81 of October 31.