Hunt for arsonist after business park fire

A PCSO is  posted on duty at the scene of a serious fire at Larchwood Avenue Bedhampton''Picture: Malcolm Wells (123269-2426)

A PCSO is posted on duty at the scene of a serious fire at Larchwood Avenue Bedhampton''Picture: Malcolm Wells (123269-2426)

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AN ARSON investigation has been launched into a fire which tore through an industrial unit in Bedhampton.

Detectives believe the blaze at Larchwood Business Park in Larchwood Avenue, near the Asda supermarket, was suspicious.

A 45-year-old man, from Horndean, has been arrested on suspicion of arson.

He has been bailed until November 28, pending further inquiries.

Early indications were that the fire was accidental, but following an investigation by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, it is believed to have been started deliberately.

Julie Knight, a spokeswoman for Hampshire Police, said: ‘It appears the fire is suspicious.

‘The investigation is on-going.’

A spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire said the file had been handed back to police for investigation.

Workers at the business park, which includes an MOT testing centre and a car service centre, said they were shocked that arson was being investigated.

Ann Buckley, county councillor for Leigh Park and Bedhampton, said: ‘I am very concerned because you really don’t hear of a lot of serious crime in the Bedhampton area.

‘I am shocked we have an incident as serious as this.

‘I hope the police can apprehend whoever caused this.

‘It’s particularly serious as they are garages which hold a lot of flammable materials like tyres.’

As reported, up to 40 firefighters tackled the blaze, which started at about 6.45pm last Saturday.

Crews were called by members of the public who spotted smoke rising from the units next to the supermarket’s petrol station.

There were fears of an explosion as gas cylinders were inside the buildings, but firefighters managed to quickly remove them.

Two lorries inside one of the units were severely damaged by the fire, while another two were badly damaged by smoke.

The blaze took more than two hours to put out.

A damaged horse box was visible through the burned-out industrial unit, which was being used as a workshop.

Police said the fire started in a Renault vehicle.

Anyone with information about the fire should call police on 101.

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