Updated at 2.35pm, Tuesday, August 2

A DEVASTATING fire which gutted an Evesham business and seriously damaged another is being treated as arson by police.

The fire in the early hours of Tuesday morning gutted Evesham Tackle at Orleans Close, off Davies Road, Evesham, and caused extensive damage to the neighbouring business, Orillo, which specialises in bathrooms, tiles and kitchens.

Chris Brooks, owner of Evesham Tackle, said he was now closed for the foreseeable future.

He told the Evesham Journal: "At the moment I feel completely numb. This has probably put us out of business until further notice.

He said he had only just moved into the unit last October and had only just begun to feel like he was getting things in order and telling people where the business was as they 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."

This morning, fire investigators were at the scene of Evesham Discount Tackle 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 the business had been forced to close for the day while they worked to get the business back on its feet in the hope they could begin trading again tomorrow.

However, he said it must be devastating for the owner of the fishing tackle business.

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."

Staff were forced to turn customers away yesterday as they cleared up the mess which includes smoke and water damage.

They had a bespoke kitchen ready to be delivered to a customer but Mr Taylor said this had been 'seriously damaged' by the fire.

He said those customers had been understanding and sympathetic when the situation was explained to them.

Annette Heppenstall, a kitchen design consultant, said: "It's hard enough living in this world without people destroying people's livelihood.

"It's a blessing nobody was hurt. When I arrived to work I was upset and panic stricken."

Mrs Heppenstall, one of six staff at Orillo, praised firefighters for their quick response which she said had stopped the fire spreading and completely engulfing their business, becoming a 'massive inferno'.

She said the risk to the business was increased because there were no residential areas around which meant the fire service was less likely to be alerted by the public.

Mrs Heppenstall said staff had a 'Dunkirk spirit' and it would soon be 'business as usual'.

The electricity had been knocked out in the showroom and there was extensive damage to the wall of the warehouse which is next to the fishing tackle business.

Some of the ceiling in one of the Orillo units had collapsed, leaving debris on a display and some of the warehouse shelving had warped because of the heat.

Officers would like to speak to anyone who was in the area at around 1.30am on Wednesday morning and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously. Anyone that has any information is asked to call West Mercia Police on 101 quoting incident 29S of 2 August.

Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Original story

A FIRE seriously damaged a business on an Evesham trading estate overnight.

Fire crews were called out to the Orillo building on Orleans Road at 1.30am today.

Two crews from Evesham, plus crews from Broadway, Pershore and Upton, plus the aerial ladder platform from Worceste, were sent to the scene.

Four fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled the blaze using a hose reel and compressed air foam was also used.

Crews are still on the site and more information will be added as it become available.