Thomas Bridge 15 January 2015

South Oxfordshire council fires: Car hits offices and man arrested

A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after fires caused severe damage to council offices in South Oxfordshire this morning.

It is believed a vehicle was deliberately driven into the offices of South Oxfordshire District Council prior to the fire, with reports claiming local residents saw gas canisters being thrown into the offices.

In total three fires - including those at the council offices - occurred in the Wallingford area just after 3am. Thames Valley Police believe the incidences are linked and are treating them as suspicious.

The council confirmed 'most services would be affected' by the fire and had set up an emergency phone line for residents.

'We are putting our business continuity plan into place to make sure the effect on the most important services is kept to a minimum,' the South Oxfordshire DC tweeted.

'Our main priority is getting important front line services back up and running.'

The incidences are not being linked to terrorism. A 47 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and is currently in custody.

Thames Valley Police said: 'It is believed that a vehicle collided with the SODC building prior to the fire.

There are cordons in place at all three locations and residents and motorists are asked to avoid these areas.'

'Nobody has been reported injured at this time as a result of these fires, however following these fires the structures of the buildings affected are being examined for safety.'

David Etheridge, chief fire officer for Oxfordshire county council's fire and rescue service, said: 'We are in the process of dealing with three major fires in south Oxfordshire, which occurred within a very short timeframe.

'These are ongoing incidents and our firefighters are working hard to get the fires under control, with assistance from neighbouring fire and rescue services at the South Oxfordshire district council fire.

'At this stage I am unable to state what the causes of the fires were. This matter is currently in the hands of Thames Valley police, with whom we are working in conjunction.'

Photo: taken by @NegusIan

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