dramatic: A still taken from the YouTube video showing a tar barrel exploding
GUTTED: The Old Fire Station at Ottery St Mary EE061109_OS01_12
MORE than 1,700 people have joined an internet group demanding justice following an explosion at Ottery St Mary’s tar barrels event.
Up to a dozen people were left needing hospital treatment for burns after a metal can, believed to be an aerosol, was thrown into a blazing barrel during the third, main run of the evening, causing a small explosion.
The drama at around 10.15pm was caught on camera but nobody has yet been arrested in connection with the incident.
Event organiser Graham Rowland said he was “appalled” by the “idiotic” act on Thursday night and urged witnesses to come forward.
He said: “I understand around 12 people needed hospital treatment for burns to their faces and hands and we need to find the culprit quickly.”
Flaming tar spewed from the barrel after it was struck by the object and furious event-goers have launched an internet campaign to find the person responsible.
A group set up on social networking site Facebook called “Tar Barrel aerosol thrower to be brought to justice” now has 1,758 members. As well as calling for the culprit to come forward, its supporters are also insisting that the event should be allowed to continue and, in the words of one member, “not be spoiled by an ignorant, reckless and sick individual”.
Mr Rowland said it was not possible to say what impact this incident might have on future events.
He said “Obviously with an event like this, we take every precaution and have a number of safety measures in place. But there’s no way we can prepare for some irresponsible idiot doing something like this.”
A police spokesman confirmed that the matter was now in the hands of Honiton CID and video footage of the incident, which can be seen on video sharing site YouTube, is being studied.
Meanwhile, the fire which caused severe damage to an historic building in Ottery St Mary is believed to have been accidental.
Fire investigators have concluded their initial investigation into the blaze which gutted the Old Fire Station building and broke out shortly after 6am on Friday, the morning after the tar barrels event.
Firefighters spent several hours battling the flames and several residents of Batts Lane had to be evacuated from their homes amid fears that gas cannisters were present.
The building has stood empty for several years although it is sometimes used for storage.
A fire service spokesman said: “This incident involved a store room at the rear of the Kings Arms public house in Batts Lane but the fire spread to the Old Fire Station. This building was almost totally destroyed by smoke, heat and fire.
“Following an investigation, we can say the cause is believed to be accidental.”
Anyone with any information regarding the tar barrels incident can call the police on 08452 777444.