A WOMAN has hit out at a group of teenagers claiming they have set fire to her apartment block in Romsey "three times a week".

Claire Venables, who lives in Coopers House, The Horsefair, claimed the hooligans gained access to the old brewery site behind her apartment and set fire to air ducts at the bottom of the building.

Now the 45-year-old is calling for the gang to be brought to justice after firemen had to be called to tackle the fire on Sunday, June 28.

Claire said: "This happened on Sunday at the old brewery site, which is at the back of my apartment and is a complete wasteland.

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"We had just got back to the apartment and we started to smell smoke in the hallway; we then had two fire engines racing up the road trying to find out how to get round to the old brewery site.

"These naughty teenagers should not be there, because it is private property and we think they are stuffing paper into our air ducts and setting fire to them.

"We had this problem this time last year and it was so smoky in the hallway the fire alarms were going off and no one could find the fire on the property, but we soon discovered it was children setting fire to the apartment.

"It is horrific because we have a lot of elderly people living here and we could all get barbecued, because these children don't have much to do."

Romsey Advertiser: Claire VenablesClaire Venables

The business owner added: "I was really ticked off when it happened on Sunday so we have bought a camera and will be putting it up this week.

"It was getting to a point when this was happening three times a week and since last year children ranging from 13 to 15-years-old have been joining this gang."

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Claire said they have reported this to the police and stressed the children "could hurt themselves by falling down one of the manholes" on the old brewery site.

One community leader also criticised the children for their anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Tadburn on Test Valley Borough Council, said: "The problem is there are a lot of very bored young people around at the moment and they will do this sort of thing.

"I believe the police know who they are and I hope appropriate action will be taken, because it is dangerous to set fires anywhere especially during a dry spell."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Mark CooperCllr Mark Cooper

He added: "The last thing anyone wants during the coronavirus crisis is something coming into their home."

Hampshire police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have been contacted for comment.