A WARNDON man has been remanded in custody after a fierce blaze engulfed a St John’s convenience store and destroyed two vehicles.
Steven Tayler, of Buttermere Drive, was charged with arson with intent at Redditch Magistrates Court yesterday (Tuesday) and will remain at HMP Hewell until he appears at Worcester Crown Court on November 17.
Police arrested the 35-year-old following the incident which saw about 40 firefighters tackle the flames at Nisa on Bromyard Road from 1.45am on Monday (August 11) for more than two hours.
There was significant damage to the front of the shop and the property above and about half a dozen residents were forced to flee their homes after gas cylinders outside the store began exploding.
Police shut Bromyard Road as the situation was brought under control before re-opening it about 4.30am.
Eight vehicles, including six fire engines, an aerial platform and a salvage unit tackled the flames with strikes by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service finishing just a couple of hours beforehand.
Group Commander George Marshall said: “Firefighters dealt with a complex fire involving exploding LPG gas cylinders, they minimised the fire spreading to the house and quickly brought it under control.
“We scaled it down, thankfully, and managed to get a reasonable stop in the premises. Although the upstairs is fairly badly damaged, it didn’t burn it out 100 per cent, which it had the potential to do.
“It’s a really positive message about the crews and how effectively and quickly they managed to bring it under control in difficult circumstances.
“There’s a big hole in the roof, there’s fire and smoke damage throughout the upstairs, and also a small part of the shop, and is not habitable at present.”
Det Ch Insp Stacey Williamson said: “This is a serious crime that we are thoroughly investigating.
“We have arrested someone who is currently in custody but are still keen to hear from any member of the public who may have further information on this incident.”
Anyone with further information can contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or by calling Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.