A new private hire company in Bradford believes it may be the victim of “cab wars” after its office was severely damaged in an overnight arson attack.
Staff at Jet Link Private Hire, which only opened in Showers Mill, Frizinghall Road, Frizinghall, six weeks ago, arrived at the office at 5.15am yesterday to find it ravaged by fire. They say if the office had been manned at the time someone could have been killed.
Firefighters from Shipley station, who attended, said the blaze was “suspicious” and believe it was started when an accelerant was poured through the letterbox. It had already burned out by the time anyone discovered it.
Police confirmed they were investigating the fire as a suspected arson. Detectives and forensic officers are working with fire investigators.
Staff say it is just the latest in a number of recent incidents that they fear are intended to shut their business down. These include nuisance calls to the office on Friday and Saturday, blocking any other customers from getting through, and customers being threatened by staff from other companies.
According to firefighters, the fact all the office doors were shut meant the fire luckily did not spread to the rest of the building, also home to a motorcycle clothing and accessory shop and wool company. The back room of the office only suffered minor damage.
Jet Link employs eight people, and the office is manned until midnight on weekdays. Its owners have vowed to continue despite the attack.
Standing in the office, now blackened by smoke damage, owner Lee Frear said: “It’s been totalled. It has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.
“We will continue – we are moving everything we can. We are still sending cabs out today. We are not going to let them beat us.”
They installed a new phone just hours after the fire so they could continue taking calls.
Fellow owner Nigel Newsome, who discovered the damage, said: “It looks like petrol has been poured through the letter box.
“If the door hadn’t been shut it could have spread to the rest of the mill.”
Mr Frear says the company’s early success in the area may have made them the target for other private hire firms in the district. He said: “I think it has been another company. We have had plenty of trouble in the past few weeks. Some of our customers have even been threatened and our phone lines have been blocked over the weekend.
“It is like taxi wars, but we’re not going to give into them. That’s what they want – for us to walk away. We’re not going to do that.”
He stressed how serious the fire was, saying: “If an operator was in here when this happened, they could have been killed.
“We will try to carry on and run things out of the back office to keep customers happy.”
The company hope to keep operating as normal, and customers can still call (01274) 270321.
A police spokesman said: “Police were called at 5.28am to reports of fire damage to a private hire premises on Frizinghall Road.
“The incident is being treated as arson and inquiries remain ongoing. Fire investigators have been working with detectives and forensic officers as part of the investigation.”
Anyone with more information about the incident can call on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.