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Yarmouth: vintage car destroyed in fire

PUBLISHED: 22:03 11 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:00 03 July 2010

A MINI enthusiast has been left devastated after the vintage motor he had spent three years restoring was destroyed in an arson attack.

Martin Butterfield, 48, was awakened by police hammering on the door of his home in Harbord Crescent, Great Yarmouth at 5am Thursday morning - to be told his pride and joy had gone.

A MINI enthusiast has been left devastated after the vintage motor he had spent three years restoring was destroyed in an arson attack.

Martin Butterfield, 48, was awakened by police hammering on the door of his home in Harbord Crescent, Great Yarmouth at 5am Thursday morning - to be told his pride and joy had gone.

His Austin 7 Mini, one of the first off the production line in February 1960, and which has cost him £3,500, had been destroyed in the blaze in his garage at the rear of his home.

The renovation was just a week from completion; Mr Butterfield only had to fit the engine and one of the front lights so it could be driven to coincide with next year's 50th anniversary celebrations of the car's launch.

A tearful Mr Butterfield said: “That was my pride and joy. I had been building it for the last three years. It was just about done, then somebody had to go and do this to me. It is devastating.”

Mr Butterfield had bought the shell of the Mini and its parts from a private dealer in Beccles and had been lovingly restoring the vehicle in the garage, which is also used by his wife Lynda, 46, for her blind-making business.

He said: “I just cannot see what the arsonists get out of doing something like this. They should be locked up and the key thrown away. They have put lives at risk.

“If the car had had petrol in it, it would not have taken long to spread to the house. I just cannot believe it. In the 10 years that I have lived here I have never had these problems.”

He believed the total cost of the damage was £20,000 because his tools and other car parts were also destroyed along with equipment used by his wife for her work.

Firefighters evacuated 20 people from six properties in Harbord Crescent after discovering two Butane gas cylinders next to the garage after being called to the incident shortly after 5am. But these were empty having last been used by Mr Butterfield five years ago to power a gas fire at his home.

Another garage in the alley behind the Harbord Crescent properties has also been targeted by arsonists.

Fire service spokesman Martin Barsby said: “It was obviously the right thing to do to evacuate the people as a precaution.”

A fire and police investigation is underway.

The cause of the fire is not known.

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