Westbourne shop fire was started by an electrical fault

BLAZE The fire-hit shop
BLAZE The fire-hit shop

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A FIRE which ravaged a convenience store has been confirmed as arson.

An investigation was carried out on the charred remains of the Southern Co-operative store, in The Square, Westbourne.

As reported a fire started in a ground floor store room at the back of the shop at about 8.30am on September 3 and quickly spread to the roof.

Staff and customers were quickly evacuated and no-one was hurt.

The shop is housed in a listed building.

Following a probe by police and West Sussex Fire and Rescue, it has been confirmed the fire was started deliberately.

The store was set to be closed for some time, but The Southern Co-operative worked round-the-clock to get it re-opened yesterday.

The shop also houses the post office and villagers have had to catch a shuttle bus service to Emsworth for the last fortnight.

The store has undergone a complete refit.

Stephanie Clarke, business manager at Westbourne, said: ‘The store has a completely new layout including wider aisles and an extra till which will make shopping here much easier.

‘We’ve also added a new community notice board outside in conjunction with the parish council.

‘We’re really looking forward to welcoming our customers back as they have been so supportive.

‘I’d like to thank them for their patience and also everyone who has helped us to get the store open again.’

To mark the reopening, the store is launching a Community Store Card Scheme to raise £10,000 for local causes.

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