Hermitage garden centre: Arson suspected

The devastated owners of a Hermitage garden centre have been forced to close their business after a suspected arson during the early hours of Monday morning.

Fire crews were called at 3 am to Roots garden supplies, in Priors Court Road, Hermitage and upon arrival saw flames licking out of the porch roof and the adjoining building, a single storey cafe.

Owners, Mark Etwell and his wife, Jackie Etwell, who are in their early 50s, were asleep at their Newbury home as the fire raged and were shocked to discover several messages on their mobile telephones when they woke up.

?We are devastated,? said Mrs Etwell ? who has made the plea for anyone who heard, or saw anything at the time to contact police with information.

?We are a family business trying to make an honest living,? she said.

The porch was completely destroyed and the cafe was estimated to have around twenty five per cent smoke damage.

Mr Etwell said they were uninsured and the damage would?run into tens of thousands of pounds.

He said he and his wife were ?determined not to allow this?to break us,? and had started?a clean-up operation at the?caf?, regularly used for community events, such as table top sales.

?We started sweeping the soot off the wall and you can see the paint, but it will need completely redecorating and rewiring ? it?s a lot of work,? he said, adding they had received some offers of help from local people.

Mr Etwell, who said they hoped to re-open in mid-January, said security would be stepped up at the garden centre, with someone living on site with dogs, to add to the existing CCTV security system.

Thames Valley Police spokeswoman, Rhianne Pope, confirmed police were called to the fire at 3.29 am and were treating the incident as a suspected arson.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact police on the non-emergency telephone number, 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously, telephone 0800 555 111.


Article Source: http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/2013/arson-suspected-at-hermitage-garden-centre

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