A HALTWHISTLE councillor believes residents on a housing estate in the town had a lucky escape after arsonists targeted a shed containing petrol.

Police launched an arson investigation after the shed on Greenholme Road was set alight in the early hours of Saturday, June 30. Coun. Gail Ward, who lives in a neighbouring property, raised concerns over public safety at the latest meeting of Haltwhistle Town Council.

“It could have done serious damage if it had exploded,” explained Coun. Ward, whose wheelie bin was one of five on the road targeted in a separate arson attack earlier this year.

“I was woken by police to say that this latest arson attempt had happened in the next block.”

Firefighters were called to the property at 12.45am but resident, Ian Gilbertson, managed to extinguish the blaze, which caused damage to the shed, a motorbike and tools in his back yard.

The fires in Haltwhistle follow a series of reported arson attacks in Hexham and outlying rural areas in January and February.

Thirty one wheelie bins were set on fire over a period of six weeks.

However, Neighbourhood Inspector for Tynedale, Pam Bridges, confirmed she had no reason to suspect the incidents were linked.

“The fires in February were mainly in Hexham, and targeted wheelie bins,” said Insp. Bridges.

"This fire targeted a shed and a motorbike, so I don’t believe there is any connection. Unfortunately, we haven’t made any arrests yet.”

A 37-year-old man was questioned in relation to the Hexham attacks. Police said he admitted 29 of the offences and was issued with a caution.

Speaking after the town council meeting, Coun. Ward added: “I raised it as a safety issue, if it had gone up, my bedroom backs on to that shed so I would’ve been buried, and other houses in the estate would’ve been damaged.

“This is an unusual thing in Haltwhistle, but you can’t have people going round torching things, it could’ve put the whole area in danger.

“There’s good people in this town, there’s just a few bad apples.”

Anyone with information about the shed fire is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101, quoting crime number 085773Q/18.