THE owner of a fishing tackle business was inside his shop during a suspected arson attack.
Chris Brooks, owner of Evesham Tackle, was forced to stand by and watch his business go up in smoke as a fire raged through it, causing an estimated £100,000 of damage.
At the height of the blaze six fire engines were at the scene of the blaze at Orleans Close, off Davies Road, at around 1.30am yesterday (Wednesday).
The fire not only gutted Evesham Tackle but also caused extensive damage to neighbouring business, Orillo, which specialises in bathrooms, tiles and kitchens.
Mr Brooks said Evesham Tackle was now closed for the foreseeable future after the fire destroyed stock, including rods, clothing and footwear in the 2,500 square feet shop.
Mr Brookes is not yet sure to what extent the structural integrity of the building has been affected but thermal imaging cameras were showing heat within the structure yesterday afternoon.
The 51-year-old, who has worked hard to build up the business over the last seven years, had been in one of the back rooms, operating the bait machine when he heard what he initially thought was doves or pigeons in the eaves.
He could also hear a popping sound as if something was hitting the glass. It was then he noticed the fire at the front of the shop. He called the fire service, describing the heat as 'unbearable'.
Mr Brooks, who runs the shop with his girlfriend, said: "I find it hard to take it all in. It's ruined my livelihood. I was in the building when the fire started.
"I'm trying not to think about what could have happened if I hadn't got out.
"Everybody say 'you're lucky' but I don't feel lucky with all the mess and the upset. I'm shocked and stunned.
"At the moment I feel completely numb. This has probably put us out of business until further notice."
He had only just moved into the unit last October and had only just begun to feel like he was getting things in order as he built up a customer base.
A spokesperson for West Mercia Police said: "One fire was contained within a wheelie bin. The other caused substantial damage to a commercial premises. Both fires are being treated as arson."
Fire investigators were at the scene yesterday where they could be seen bringing out smoke-blackened debris from inside the store.
Colin Taylor, general manager at Orillo and parent company Cambabest said yesterday (Wednesday) the business had been forced to close for the day while they worked to get the business back on its feet.
He said: "We will work through and get it up and running. We're very pragmatic like that. They're not going to knock us down. Our job is to get the business up and running as quickly as possible. I would hope to be up and running tomorrow morning if we can, at least in some capacity."
Source : http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/worcester/15449538.Owner_of_fishing_tackle_business_flees_burning_business_after_suspected_arson_attack/