Oxford

Oxfordshire fires: Arson spree suspect charged

Council office fire Image copyright Ian negus
Image caption The South Oxfordshire District Council HQ was set alight on Thursday morning

A man has been accused of arson after a spate of major fires in Oxfordshire.

Andrew Main, 47, of Rokemarsh, Roke, Wallingford, faces three charges, including one count of arson with intent to endanger life.

The charges relate to blazes in Rokemarsh and Crowmarsh Gifford on Thursday, including at the offices of South Oxfordshire District Council.

Mr Main was remanded in custody to appear at Oxford Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

He is charged with one count of arson with intent to endanger life, and two counts of arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.

At their peak, 27 crews were tackling the fires which started within 10 minutes of each other shortly after 03:00 GMT.

Burnt-out car

In the first blaze, Jean Gladstone, 80, escaped unhurt from her thatched cottage on Quakers Corner in Rokemarsh, near Benson.

Minutes later a second fire was reported at a funeral parlour in the village of Crowmarsh Gifford. The third blaze was at the nearby council offices, damaging 85% of the buildings.

The burnt-out wreckage of a car remains in the foyer of the council.

Gas canisters were found at all three fire sites.

About 400 staff normally work at the council offices. A skeleton staff of 40 people are currently working.

The headquarters also houses about two-thirds of the Vale of the White Horse District Council's staff.

Image caption A thatched cottage on Quakers Corner in Rokemarsh, near Benson, was hit by fire

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