Women and child stranded after lay-by arson attack

Car fires cause chaos in Portbury.

Car fires cause chaos in Portbury. - Credit: Archant

TWO cars were set alight in a Portbury lay-by, leaving two women and a child stranded in the dark at 3.30am.

Elise Lipjart and her daughter Rhiann, from Portishead, and Jane Thompson, from Bristol, left their cars in the parking area at the junction of the A369 and Portbury High Street at 10pm on Friday to catch a lift to Cardiff with their friend Gill Moore.

The women, along with Gill’s daughter Catherine, aged 15, are members of the Wales and West Synchronised Skating Club and regularly leave their vehicles in the bay to share lifts to training sessions in Wales.

But when they returned on Saturday at 3.30am, they were devastated to find both vehicles had been set alight and one was still smouldering.

Gill Moore, from Weston, said: “We’ve been leaving our cars there twice a week for a year and we’ve never had any trouble.

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“We got back about 3.30am and pulled into the car park. It was really dark but my friend said something had happened to her car.

“We got out and could see it was completely gutted and still smouldering.

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“My other friend’s car was parked next to it and that had also been set on fire. It was completely gutted, there was nothing inside it and all the windows had exploded.”

The women called the police but were told to call the fire service instead.

Gill added: “My friend Jane called the police and they just weren’t interested. They said we needed to speak to the fire service. Again, they weren’t really interested.

“The people who did it could have still been there. It’s quite frightening to think we were just left there.”

Last month, the Times reported that police were warning motorists not to park in the lay-by after a number of incidents including a vehicle fire and abusive notes and banana skins left on cars.

But Gill said there were no signs up warning motorists and no evidence of any police patrols.

A police spokesman said: “Police are investigating an arson of two cars at about 11.30pm on April 5.

“A green Ford Fiesta and a blue Skoda Fabia had been parked in the lay-by where they were set alight.

“The fire service attended and extinguished the fire.”

Anyone who saw the fire being started should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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