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Man charged with arson after cars set on fire in Canterbury

A man has been charged with arson following a spate of car fires in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Richard Barham, formerly of Becket Avenue in Canterbury, has appeared in court today facing one charge of arson after nine cars were torched.

A burnt-out car in Church Street, St Dunstans, this morning
A burnt-out car in Church Street, St Dunstans, this morning

Police were called shortly after 1am yesterday, to a report a car was on fire in Church Street, Canterbury.

Eight other cars were damaged in Cross Street, Davidson Road and Bishops Way, Canterbury on the same night.

All of the fires were extinguished by the fire service, and no injuries were reported.

Following an investigation, Richard Barham, 37, has been charged with arson in relation to the car fire in Church Street.

Another car destroyed by flames in Bishops Way, Canterbury
Another car destroyed by flames in Bishops Way, Canterbury

Barham appeared before Folkestone Magistrates' Court today and was remanded in custody to appear at Canterbury Crown Court on a date to be arranged.

KentOnline revealed yesterday how residents were woken in the early hours by the sound of vehicles exploding outside their homes.

Footage posted on social media showed cars engulfed in flames.

Footage shows car on fire in Bishops Way, Canterbury. Video: Sandie de Rougemont

Sandie de Rougemont, who runs the House of Agnes hotel in St Dunstans, told KentOnline she called the fire service at about 1.20am before hearing several explosions.

"Neighbours started coming out and there were bits of car exploding all over the place," she said.

Margaret Simpson, 73, who lives in Bishops Way, was also woken by the sound of car alarms going off before seeing a bright red light shining on her conservatory walls.

"I heard banging and I thought it was fireworks, but it was a car going up," she said.

Another video showing two cars aflame. Video: Sandie de Rougemont

Police joined firefighters at the scene, telling residents to stay inside and close their windows.

A fire service spokesman confirmed crews had several call-outs in the early hours.

One fire engine was sent to Orchard Street at about 1am to a car alight. Crews used a hose reel jet and water from a hydrant to tackle the fire.

Five minutes later firefighters were called to a garage fire in Cross Street. Two fire engines were sent to the scene and crews used a fog spoke and a high pressure fan to extinguish the blaze.

Inside one of the cars in Bishops Way
Inside one of the cars in Bishops Way

Then at about 1.23am crews were called to multiple cars alight in Bishops Way. Three fire engines were in attendance, and crews wearing breathing apparatus used compressed air foam to extinguish the fires, remaining at the scene until 3am.

They were also called to a car fire in Davidson Road at 2am.

Investigations remain ongoing and anyone who witnessed what happened, or has CCTV or dashcam footage which may assist, is urged to call Kent Police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/129500/21.

You can also contact Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously by calling 0800 555111 or by filling in the online report form.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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