Radio Sandwell Local News

Shop arson attack shuts Harborne High Street

2013-05-03 00:26:36

About 70 firefighters were called to tackle a suspected arson attack at a shoe shop on a Birmingham high street.

The blaze, which started in the rear storeroom of the Stead and Simpson store in Harborne at about 06:00 BST, is being treated by police as arson.

Harborne High Street has now reopened after being shut for several hours.

Businesses said they had lost thousands of pounds in trade after the road closure. Superdrug and the Coral bookmakers were damaged by the fire.

West Midlands Police said there were indications the shoe shop had been broken into and stock had been stolen before the fire was started.

Tony Prosser, area commander at West Midlands Fire Service, said crews had faced "quite dangerous conditions" when they arrived at the scene, because of a backdraft caused by a build-up of gases inside the shop.

'Never anything like that'

Glenn Soaden, who has a lock-up near the store, said earlier he had turned up there and seen "everything on fire - smoke everywhere".

He added: "I've been down there 23 years now, but I've never seen anything like that."

Greengrocer Mark Cox had been watching the fire's development and said part of the roof at the site had collapsed.

"I arrived just after six, the fire service was already on the High Street, doing the best they could."

Police urged anyone with information about the fire to contact them.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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