Chivenor vehicles firm fire 'treated as arson'

Fire at Chivenor Trade Centre Hire Ltd
Image caption Firefighters spent several hours tackling the flames at the vehicle hire business

A large fire at a family-run business which specialises in commercial vehicles is being "treated as arson".

The blaze destroyed dozens of cars and minibuses at Chivenor Trade Centre, near Barnstaple.

About 35 firefighters tackled the fire which started some time after 02:00 GMT on Saturday.

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Investigations into the blaze, which is being treated as arson, are continuing."

At least two areas were found where fire had been started.

A gas main was also involved and had to be isolated.

A number of residents were evacuated to a nearby chapel on the marine barracks but allowed to return home just after 06:00 GMT.

On Saturday, an eyewitness told BBC News that the "distraught" owner of the company had run it for about 30 years.

A police spokesman said: "We are keen to hear from anyone who saw anything unusual, particularly along the Tarka Trail between the Braunton Inn and Chivenor roundabout, in the early hours of the morning, to contact police.

"We are also keen to speak to anyone who may have been working at the nearby Chivenor Business Park and may have been starting or finishing a shift there to call police with any information."

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