Tyne & Wear

Newcastle Kard Bar fire: Body believed to be Brian Sandells

Cross Street fire
Image caption Thick smoke from the blaze on Cross Street could be seen across the city centre on Tuesday

A body has been found in the remains of a burnt-out shop in Newcastle city centre.

The Kard Bar, on Cross Street, went up in flames shortly before 09:00 GMT on Tuesday.

It took firefighters more than five hours to bring it under control.

It is believed the body may that of the shop's 81-year-old owner, Brian Sandells, although formal identification has not taken place, Northumbria Police said.

Mr Sandells was known to live at the shop, has not been seen since Tuesday and his family have been unable to contact him, the force said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Nearby flats were evacuated and more than 80 students from nearby International House spent the night in temporary accommodation.

Northumbria Police said doubts about the structural safety of the building made it "extremely difficult" for fire and police officers to get inside.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Shoppers were advised to avoid the area while the fire was put under control

Supt Bruce Storey said it was a "very difficult and complex investigation due to the nature and severity of the damage caused to the building".

"We are extremely saddened to say that we believe that Brian Sandells, who was a resident in one of the flats above the shop, was inside his home at the time the fire happened and may have passed away during the fire," he said.

More than 50 firefighters were at the scene at the height of the blaze and thick smoke caused the closure of Westgate Road, Clayton Road and Cross Street.

Westgate Road has reopened but a cordon in place around the burnt-out building will remain in place for the foreseeable future, police said.

Businesses nearby can only reopen when the local authority and fire service say it is safe, the force said.

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