Avon and Somerset Police have now confirmed that the fire at one of the Tonedale Mill buildings on 5 August was started deliberately but added that, so far, the arsonist(s) have not been found.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said, “While satisfied that the fire was started deliberately, it has not been possible to identify the offender.
“Historic England and local planning officers have been spoke to, with a view on how they intend to protect the mill, given the cultural importance to Wellington.”
This was first of two fires in abandoned buildings that fire crews had to tackle on the same night. The second was in Bideford, Devon.
At the time a spokesman for the service said fires in abandoned buildings can be extremely dangerous to firefighters, as the structures can be at risk of collapse. Crews at the Tonedale Mill fire who were searching the building for people trapped inside had to withdraw when the gable end of the property started to collapse.
Paul Bray, Fire Protection Manager said, “Derelict buildings can be seen as playgrounds and young people do not understand the danger they are putting themselves and the emergency services in.”
Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer and chairman of the National Arson Prevent Forum added: “Arson is a crime and places unnecessary risk to those involved and to firefighters who respond to deal with the impact of deliberate fire setting.
“At the same time, whilst the Fire Service is dealing with fires in unoccupied and derelict buildings, we are tying up valuable resources that may be needed at other emergencies.
“We urge anyone with information as to who may be setting these fires to call the police or Crimestoppers immediately.
“If anyone sees any suspicious activity then they should call the emergency services immediately on 999.
“If anyone has information about what lead to any deliberately started fires, you can telephone police on 101 Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 where you can give details completely anonymously.”