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Ottery tar barrels aerosol 'idiot' hunted

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: November 09, 2009

  • 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

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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.

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    juice-im-up, london  |  November 10 2009, 4:37PM

    I love the barrels. Every year I drive from London to witness something truly original, special and utterly unique. Ottery is a great place for many reasons - Coleridge, the fine church, that be known - but the Barrels transcend the simply traditional, or the historic. I stood this year, outside co-op during the Lamb & Flag barrel, in awe of the spectacle. The heaving mass of people squealing and cheering urging the barrelers on. To run an event like this takes guts and spirit. I always always respect that - not from fear, but because the barrels is for the barrellers, it is their night and I always feel honoured to be there. Spectating at the barrels, watching it snake through crowds in the distance before coming straight at you is the thrill -after 25 years attendance, those frozen moments where you make a decision to go left or right, duck underneath it or run still make the barrels tense, exciting and wonderful. The danger of this years barrels, came not from the men, woman and children who upheld the tradition with the same passion and dignity that they do every year, but from the crowd. The lunatic who launched an aerosol can into a flaming barrel is quite frankly insane - this is a criminal act of violence, - he or she must be found, exposed and punished. A moment of madness it may have been, but people are hurting and scarred not becasue of the tar barrels, but because of an aerosol can someone put in one of them. The barrellers may ask if there is anything they could do - I once touched the midnight barrel as a drunken youth and was flattened by John Coles who said - "Don't touch the barrels" as I went down in a sea of sparks and smoke. I deserved it and never touched the barrels again. In direct response to Jim from Exmouth's knee-jerk - emphasis on the jerk - response to ban the barrels forever, I would counter by saying. NEVER, EVER STOP THIS INCREDIBLE EVENT - LONG LIVE THE TAR BARRELS. p.s Stop Tesco.

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    Tasha, Ex-Ottery  |  November 10 2009, 1:37PM

    One idiot has ruined tar barrels and two peoples lives for ever. Long live the barrels, although I suspect that will be the last :-( p.s. Tasha Mcdermott - calling Ottery a hick town? If that's the case, I think you'll find there's lots of 'hick towns' in Devon and we love them all for their quirks and traditions.

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    Tasha Mcdermott, BROADWAY EXETER  |  November 10 2009, 11:38AM

    now someone has to have plastic surgery because the idiots from ottery want to continue an outdated dangerous enviromentaly unfriendly small hick town tradition.

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    EDWARD CUTTY-DYER, ASHBURTON DEVON  |  November 10 2009, 10:21AM

    White trash thats a bit prejudice. your not related to Emma thompson by any chance ?

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    dominic, Exeter  |  November 10 2009, 9:36AM

    Sadly it seems you can't attend any event these days without drunk chavs trying to ruin it for everyone. That's right- our growing army of loud, stupid white trash who think they can do whatever they like. Don't ban the barrels, ban the sort of neanderthals who ruin it for everybody. I worry about Devon's gene pool.

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    Greg, Sidmouth  |  November 10 2009, 12:17AM

    As a roller myself, may i just get one thing clear. The tar barrels tradition is not an open invitation, nor is it held for the entertainment of others apart for those directly related. Crowd and public incidents are a regrettable and major hindrance of something that was once a very locale affair. Now thanks to modern technology and media hype, we are trying to hold on to something very dear to our hearts. Anyone there, is there at there own risk. So too those who support our tradition , we really thank you for your support. And to anyone who doesn't, go to a fireworks display. PS PLEASE LEAVE US ALONE

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    merlin, exeter  |  November 09 2009, 9:55PM

    Ever since we can rember we have been supporters of the tar barrel event (even carrying them in the past) Why should the event be canceled just because of one small minded, imature, cowardly persons stupid actions. Our admiration goes out to all those with the guts + bravery shown to carry the burning barrels. Our condolences to all those injured,we wish you all speedy recovery.

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    Sensible, Exeter  |  November 09 2009, 7:09PM

    Will. Even less people like someone who knowingly harbours an idiot who could have caused serious injury or worse. If anyone knows who did it, it is their responsibility to turn them in.

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    Amelia Kubaczka, Exeter  |  November 09 2009, 6:45PM

    I would first like to congratulate the men & women of the carnival committee who work tirelessly throughout the year to continue this tradition. My father has been rolling the barrels for 46 years and as a family are heavily involved in the carnival aswell. I am in 2 minds i would love the tradition to continue however i think this moron has ruined it and would not have been to happy if it was one of my own family or do we all show solidarity and show them all ESPECIALLY JIM that we will not stand for it!

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    Sarah, Exeter  |  November 09 2009, 4:44PM

    Gribble from Cowick St - if you judge the seriousness of an incident by the number of people who died, you are very naive. Six people hospitalised with burns, two requiring plastic surgery - is that not serious? Of course the tradition shouldn't be lost because of one person's actions, but I don't think we should 'get over it' - especially when it has left some (my brother included) with nasty burns covering their faces and hands, possibly scarring them for life. Oh, and Will - if someone knows who did this, they wouldn't be a grass for turning them in. Whoever it was should not be allowed to get away with it. It's a matter of justice and duty, and I'd much rather be a 'grass' than to know who did it and not do anything about it.

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