Spate of blazes trigger alert to Leeds city centre businesses

A string of mystery fires in Leeds city centre in recent weeks is being probed by police and fire service experts.

But, the latest blaze in the Butterfly Lounge basement bar in Park Place, which caused extensive damage in the early hours of Tuesday, is not thought to have been started maliciously nor is it believed to be linked to a series of other rubbish fires in basement stairwells and entrances, say police.

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It is thought that paper was lit deliberately by someone who entered the building – possibly someone seeking shelter – while it was insecure, but not with any malicious attempt to damage the building, said a spokesman.

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The cause of the fire, reported at 4.18am, was investigated by West Yorkshire Fire Service and City and Holbeck Police, who have also probed three or four other rubbish fires including one at the rear of Metropole Hotel, King Street, earlier.

Police said there was insufficient evidence to show whether those fires were caused deliberately or whether they were being linked, though the fire near the Metropole was being treated as suspicious.

In Tuesday's fire at least 50 per cent of the Butterfly bar, which is beneath offices occupied by a solicitor's practice, was damaged.

The earlier fires sparked a police warning to traders and extra patrols and the City Neighbourhood Policing Team urged businesses in Leeds city centre to guard against ?re being started in their bin storage areas.

In one of the earlier fires, rubbish from bins on Albion Place was set alight adjacent to property and a similar incident was reported on Lands Lane.

In the fire in Albion Place a woman was in a second-?oor ?at in Albion Place above the Body Shop and Costa Coffee premises when she smelled smoke at about 11.30pm.

She said: "We were effectively trapped in the building. There were lots of plastic bags and two wheelie bins on ?re. It was very frightening."

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