Teenager Admits Starting Tesco Fire

21 July 2010, 13:04 | Updated: 21 July 2010, 13:11

A teenager has admitted starting a fire which destroyed a Tesco store in Hampshire earlier this month.

Daniel Eastley (19) from Havant, admitted setting light to bread crates at the rear of the store. He has pleaded guilty to two counts of arson and will be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court next month.

At 18:43 on Wednesday, 7 July 2010 Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was alerted to the serious fire at Tesco Express at the Westbrooke Centre in Cowplain.

Control operators received numerous calls advising about a fire involving refuse at the back of the building. Four fire appliances from Waterloovile, Horndean, Southsea and Portchester fire stations were swiftly mobilised to the scene.  The special equipment unit from St Mary’s Fire Station, the aerial ladder platform from Southsea Fire Station, and the incident command unit from Eastleigh were also in attendance.

One person suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation, a 37-year-old man who worked at the store, was taken to hospital by South Central Ambulance Service. The roof of the single story building was 100% damaged by fire before collapsing into the premises.  The fire was extinguished using seven jets, the aerial ladder platform monitor, and six sets of breathing apparatus.

Detective Constable Mark Leonard, from Hampshire’s Arson Task Force, said: “Witness accounts and timely phone calls from the public to the emergency services and have helped greatly with this investigation. Arson is the largest single cause of fire in the UK, leading to the loss of life, serious injury, and financial hardship in our communities. This case should send out a clear message to arsonists and the public that arson is a serious problem and arsonists will be caught and face the legal consequences.”