Faringdon Business Park fire: Witnesses say sky turned ‘orange’ with 40ft flames

John Woodwards, whose tyre business was destroyed in the Faringdon fire

John Woodwards, whose tyre business was destroyed in the Faringdon fire

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A TYRE business owner said he was “gutted” after his workshop was destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

John Woodwards, 67, lost up to £5,000 worth of stock in the blaze, which destroyed four units at Faringdon Business Park in the early hours of Saturday.

Thames Valley Police said they were treating the incident, which witnesses said “turned the sky orange” with 40ft flames, as arson.

Grandfather-of-three Mr Woodwards would not be drawn on why his business had been hit, but said: “I’m just totally gutted that it’s all gone. It’s devastating.

“There’s nothing salvageable from there and I will just have to walk away from it. It feels like a lot of hard work has just gone for nothing. There’s a lot of people’s livelihoods here [at the business park].”

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service was called to the fire at the business park, off the A420, at 12.25am.

Six fire engines from Faringdon, Wantage, Abingdon, Oxford and Bampton attended the scene, as well as police.

Firefighters managed to contain the fire to the 30m x 30m single-storey building, which was split into four different business units.

Water used for putting out the fire was taken from a nearby lake, at Faringdon Golf Club.

A classic car repair business in the building is also believed to have been damaged in the blaze. Two other units in the building were said to be empty.

Mr Woodwards, who has owned Marston Tyres in South Marston for more than 30 years, opened Part-Worn Tyres three months ago as a subsidiary business to repair tyres for resale.

Stock destroyed in the fire included up to 150 tyres, a computer and tyre maintenance equipment.

Mr Woodwards, who lives in Swindon, added: “I got here at about 8.30am and it was full of fire engines and police cars. I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t bring myself to think that far ahead.”

The business park includes six businesses and four private storage facilities.

Smoke and soot damaged a container owned by Grove resident Martin Wakelin. The container is used to store three racing cars for his 15-year-old son Robert, a junior racing driver.

The 42-year-old sales director said: “The police told us it’s a crime scene. I can’t understand why someone would do this.”

He added: “We managed to wash the soot off the cars and have taken them out.”

Kim Couling, owner of nearby TJ’s Cafe, said: “It was a bit of a shock. It’s really sad. We were very lucky that the fire was contained because our building is wooden.”

Mike Adcock, the fire station manager at Rewley Road, Oxford, was incident commander. He said: “Crews worked extremely hard in hot and humid fire conditions to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings.”

* A 76-year-old man from Faringdon has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit arson and has been bailed until Tuesday, September 30.

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