Scared residents woken by 3 ice-cream van arson attacks in Luton in the space of 7 minutes

Wilsden Avenue van
Wilsden Avenue van

Residents say they are frightened about what might have happened to their homes after arsonists set fire to three ice-cream vans in Luton in the space of just seven minutes .

The vans were set alight deliberately between 2.34am and 2.41am on Friday (July 13), reviving memories of similar incidents in the town six years ago and police believe the incidents are linked.

Two of the arson attacks were in Dallow at Connaught Road and Thornhill Road, while the other was in Wilsden Avenue in Farley.

Rajid Khan, who lives in Connaught Road, grabbed a bucket of water to help tackle the fire there and said: “It was scary. I was woken by a burning smell.

“If we hadn’t got the fire out, the van could have exploded. It’s got electrics to it.

“It could have spread. There are other vehicles right next to the van, and it was close to the houses.”

The Gelati All’Italiana van owner declined to comment, but another neighbour, who didn’t wish to be named, said he heard a banging noise and could also smell the smoke.

He grabbed a bucket of water to help douse the flames, and said as soon as it was under control another fire broke out round the corner in Thornhill Road.

“It could be somebody targetting him,” (the van owner) the neighbour added. “The ice cream business at this time of the year is making good money. I tried to help him as much as I could. The smell of smoke came through the bathroom window. I thought it was my car alight.

“It could have been a lot worse if the van had lit up,” he added. “It could have taken out anything nearby.

“The van is made of a fibreglass plastic material, which if lit could have burst into flames very quickly.”

Police and fire crews attended the two incidents in Dallow and the van fire in Farley.

Christian Uchenne, of Wilsden Avenue, explained the van on his drive belongs to a friend’s brother.

“It was really scary,” he said. “I got woken when someone knocked on the door and told me the van was on fire.”

His priority was to get his wife and children out of the house, and to switch off the electrical supply to the van, he added.

Det Con Cathie Layton said: “We believe all three were started deliberately and we are exploring the possibility they could be linked.

“Thankfully nobody was hurt as a result of the fires, but this could have been a lot worse as the vans were all parked near houses.

Call 101 with any information about the incidents which could assist the investigation.