A SERIAL arsonist could be on the loose as a police investigation is launched into whether two serious blazes in Southampton are linked.

As reported by the Daily Echo, a home in Shirley Avenue was broken into and a fire started in its kitchen when the offender put a sofa cushion on a gas hob before lighting it.

Now officers believe a fire the previous night at a flat in nearby Anglesea Road, Shirley, could be connected.

Police discovered a number of expensive photography equipment was taken including a Canon 70D DSLR camera, tripod, bag containing camera lenses, and an Acer laptop.

Fire crews from across the city swooped on the block of three flats but could not prevent the fire destroying the family home.

Daily Echo:

A team of 17 fire fighters battled the flames, stopping it from spreading any further.

No one was injured in the Anglesea Road fire and its occupants were understood to be on holiday in Devon.

It is a similar situation to the Shirley Avenue blaze where the family were out visiting relatives.

The fire was contained to the kitchen but there was extensive smoke damage throughout, while police cordoned off part of the road while they investigated.

Detectives are now urging residents to take all precautions to prevent future burglaries.

Advice includes:

  • Lock all windows and doors, remembering to double lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn key)
  • Keep all keys out of reach and sight from the letterbox (remember a device could be used to hook keys through a letterbox).
  •  Do not leave ladders and garden tools in your garden, lock them away in your shed.
  • Consider fitting security lighting and a burglar alarm.
  • Make use of timer switches to make the property appear occupied.

The Anglesea Road fire occurred between 10pm and 1am on Saturday, June 14, while the Shirley Avenue blaze was discovered at 4pm the following day.

Anyone with information on the Anglesea Road fire should contact Police Staff Investigator Melody Manning at Shirley Police Station on 101.

Witnesses to the Shirley Avenue blaze should contact DC Lucy Stewart at Shirley on 101.

Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit hampshire.police.uk/internet/do-it-online/ online-forms/message-for-officer.html.