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Sherlock helps solve East Ham fire mystery

Sherlock is specially trained to sniff out accelerants such as petrol and lighter fluid Sherlock is specially trained to sniff out accelerants such as petrol and lighter fluid

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
2:29 PM

Residents at a hostel can sleep easy after a cocker spaniel called Sherlock ruled out arson in a blaze that damaged the ground floor of the property.

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The blaze damaged the ground floor of the hostel in Barking RoadThe blaze damaged the ground floor of the hostel in Barking Road

Seven-month-old Sherlock is a specialist fire investigation dog trained to detect substances such as petrol, lighter fluid and white spirit.

Although he accompanied firemen to the blaze in Barking Road, East Ham he did not identify any accelerants that would have indicated the fire was started deliberately.

Paul Osbourne, a fire investigator and Sherlock’s handler said: “Sherlock didn’t identify any of the substances he’s trained to sniff out, including petrol, lighter fluid, and white spirit. That evidence, alongside my investigation, indicates that the cause of the fire was accidental. Sherlock’s completely invaluable as he’s much more efficient than the mechanical devices available. Machines can’t discriminate between organic materials and accelerants, whereas Sherlock can.”

Firefighters rescued two men the hostel on Barking Road, in the early hours of this morning. The fire badly damaged the ground floor of the property and there was thick black smoke throughout the two storey building.

Watch Manager Paul Baker, who was at the scene said: “Crews were faced with a severe fire which caused downstairs windows to smash due to the intensity of the blaze. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued a man from the ground floor and another from the first floor via the internal staircase.”

A woman and a further man had escaped from the property before fire crews arrived. London Ambulance Service treated all four at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Four fire engines and around 21 firefighters and officers were called to the converted house at 3.48am. The fire was under control by about 5am.

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