Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire Tesco store fire 'was deliberate'

A fire which destroyed a Tesco store in Hampshire is being treated as arson.

The manager evacuated the express store at the Westbrook Centre in Grassmere Way, Waterlooville, when the fire started on Wednesday evening.

It is the third fire at the premises in the past 10 years with the latest incident thought to have started when bread bins were set alight outside.

Police said the fire could have been deadly and appealed for help, including information on rumours about suspects.

Minor burns

Havant Borough Council said the area around the store had not been highlighted as suffering from any higher levels of anti-social behaviour than usual after witnesses reported youths around the store at the time of the fire.

Councillor David Keast added: "We have been actively working to reduce anti-social behaviour across the whole borough.

"This work has included a number of intervention projects for youths, environmental visual audits, high visibility policing and, on targeted weekends, borough-wide enforcement by policing teams dedicated to dealing with anti-social behaviour."

A 37-year-old man who worked at the store received minor burns in the incident.

Det Con Emma Cooke said: "Our investigations so far indicate that this fire was started deliberately.

"We are taking this incident extremely seriously as this fire could easily have injured many more people or even claimed lives.

"I would appeal for anyone who was in the area at the time of the fire and saw anyone acting suspiciously around the store to contact us."

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