The owner of a business which was set on fire in an arson attack on yesterday morning warned that two people could have died. 

Firefighters were called to Family First Solicitors on Woodstock Road at around 4am on Monday morning after a fire was spotted through the front door by a passer-by.

READ MORE: Fire at solicitors in Oxford

Ursula Rice, director of Family First Solicitors, said: “It could have been very serious, there were two people asleep in the flats. It could have could have killed two people.

“We are very, very lucky and the moral of the story is: fire doors are meant to be kept shut and they will save your life and if you are like us they will save your premises as well.

“The fire doors were all shut, so although the entire stairwell – all the way to the top of the building – is disgusting with all that black, sooty and smoky damage, the inside of the premises does not even need dusting.”

Oxford Mail: The stair case was damaged by the fire. The stair case was damaged by the fire.

When firefighters were on the scene they wore breathing apparatus, extinguished the fire and carried out a thorough search of the building.

Ms Rice told the Oxford Mail the firm cannot quite use the office as normal because staff cannot get up the damaged staircase.

However, the firm’s next door neighbours Browns, which shares the same building, are being “lovely” and letting staff get access to the building.

She added: “The thing we benefit most from is the real community spirit amongst the businesses here on St Giles, everybody has been lovely and Browns have been so helpful. Really good neighbours.”

“The business disruption is not too bad and my message is: ‘still open, still trading. Nice try, whoever you are, we are not going down just because you have done this to us.

“We are a bit chargrilled but we are still open for business.”

Incident commander Paul White said it was thanks to the smoke detectors in building going off that residents in the adjoining flats were alerted and they were able to evacuate the property to a safe place.

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service asked that people please check they have working smoke detectors in their property and close doors as part of their nightly routine.

Fire investigators are helping Thames Valley Police with their enquiries.


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