WEST Mercia Police are appealing for witnesses to two incidents where bins had been set on fire in Oswestry, Shropshire.
The bins were set alight on two separate locations on Wednesday, July 23 between 10am and 1.30pm.
The first fire occurred at the rear of the British Heart Foundation store in Cladw Du which caused significant damage to the bin and some damage to external building.
The second fire occurred at the neighbouring street, Willow Street, where a member of the public saw the bin 'smoking' and was extinguished by fire officers before it could properly take hold.
Three women have been treated for smoke inhalation as a result of the first fire.
Crowds gathered as the three women left the alleyway - two wearing oxygen masks - and were taken to a nearby ambulance.
The first woman to be taken to the ambulance was the assistant manager of the British Heart Foundation store, Theresa Stewart.
She said: “A man came into the shop to say that there was a bin on fire. We called the fire service and shut the shop. They arrived very quickly, within minutes. I don’t think any of the stuff inside is damaged.
“This has happened before, the wheelie bin was pushed up against the door. Luckily it was a fire door, which is what saved us. There was flames up to the top window.”
Sian Morris, shop volunteer, who also had to wear an oxygen mask, added: “The explosions were awful. Thankfully everyone is all right.”
It has been confirmed that all three women were cleared at the scene and nobody required any further attention.
A spokesperson for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said they received reports of a property fire shortly before 11am and mobilised two appliances.
Incident commander, Robyn Evans, said: “We were called to a bin fire and were then informed that the fire had spread to the property.
"We extinguished the fire in the wheelie bin and then damped down the property. We carried out checks on the exterior then a thermal imaging camera was used and we are happy that there is no fire internally.
“Three people have been treated for smoke inhalation. We want people to know that arson costs a lot of money, resources and damage.”
West Mercia Police are appealing for for anyone who knows anything about the two fires, or who may have seen one or more people acting suspiciously in the area at the time, to contact the Police on 101 quoting incident number 0222S of 23 July 2014.
Alternatively you can give information without giving your name by calling the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website: www.crimestoppers-uk.org