DETECTIVES have confirmed they now suspect that four wilful fire-raising and firebomb incidents last week in Greenock are linked.
Officers are renewing their appeal for information from the public following the incidents.
The first blaze involved a 46-year-old man apparently setting himself on fire by mistake at a property in Union Street at 10.35pm on Monday 14 September.
He died at the scene and camera footage that surfaced online shows him carrying what appears to be a petrol container.
Two days later, on Wednesday 16 September, around 11pm, a 40-year-old woman suffered serious injury in a fire at Wellington Street. It’s believed to have been started by an accelerant thrown through a window.
Her nine-year-old daughter, who was also within the property at the time, was uninjured.
A small white vehicle was seen in the area, driven off at speed after the attack in the direction of the junction of Wellington Street and Duncan Street.
A short time later, around 11.10pm, a white Suzuki Splash, with registration number GK14 FZE, was seen driving into Skye Street in Greenock at speed.
Three men got outcar and run off down Skye Street and into Rankin Street. They are all described as being in their late teens and of skinny builds.
The driver was wearing a black scarf covering the lower part of his face and a black zipped hooded top. The two passengers were both wearing something over their heads and each wore grey zipped hooded tops, with the hoods ups.
Around 2.20am on Thursday 17 September, the same white Suzuki was found to be on fire on Skye Street. This car had been reported stolen from Denholm Terrace in the early hours of Wednesday 16 September.
Finally, on Saturday (19 September), around 1am, a fire was reported at Cumberland Road. It is also believed to have been started by an accelerant, thrown at a window of a property.
Garden furniture caught fire but was extinguished quickly. The occupants, a 45-year-old woman and three members of the family, including her six-year-old daughter, were not injured.
Police Scotland say inquiries into all four incidents, in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service, and investigations into whether there are any links between them, are ongoing.
Detective Superintendent Gerry McBride said: “We are sickened by all of these incidents, whether linked or not. These have been unprovoked, targeted attacks which have resulted in both serious injury and death.
“A couple of these attacks have also taken place while children have been present and it has been sheer luck that the number of people injured has not been any higher. We want to make it absolutely clear that this behaviour will not be tolerated in our community and officers will do everything they can to find those responsible.
“It is also important to reassure the wider community that, although enquiries are still ongoing, we do not believe there is any risk to the wider public.
“There will be an increased police presence in the area whilst investigations are ongoing. Specialist units have been deployed to both carry out enquiries, and to tackle this problem and prevent any further instances occurring.
“I encourage anyone who has any information which could be of assistance to please come forward.
“We are particularly interested in finding out any information about the movements of the cars mentioned — the white Suzuki Splash, stolen from Denholm Terrace in the early hours of Wednesday, 16 September and set on fire in the early hours of Thursday, 17 September in Skye Street, and the small white car seen driving away at speed from the attack on Wellington Street around 11pm on Wednesday, 16 September.
“If you do have any information, or if you may have seen anything or maybe have dashcam footage or private CCTV footage of any of the incidents, please contact police as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference number 4105 of Wednesday 16 September. Alternatively, those who prefer to remain anonymous, can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.