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Man, 24, denies starting Wellington Waitrose fire
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- Man, 24, charged with arson.
- Robert Pitman entered not guilty plea at magistrates' court on Tuesday.
- Eight fire engines at the scene at its peak.
- Fire crews called at around 6.30am on Sunday.
ROBERT Pitman, 24, of High Street, Wellington entered a not guilty plea at Taunton Deane Magistrates' Court this morning (July 23).
He was remanded in custody and is due to appear at crown court on August 19.
At #Taunton Mags where 24yo Robert Pitman, of #Wellington, is due to appear over alleged arson attack on @waitrose on Sunday.— @GazetteMMarsh 23 July 2013
A 24-YEAR-OLD man has been charged with arson, police have confirmed.
Robert Pitman from Wellington was denied bail and will appear at Taunton Deane Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (July 23) morning.
A MAN in his 20s is currently being questioned by detectives in Taunton.
THE County Gazette understands an arrest has been made following yesterday's fire.
LEADER of Taunton Deane Council John Williams said he was shocked to hear of the fire that damaged the Waitrose store in Wellington yesterday (July 21).
“Waitrose has established itself as an important element in the local Wellington economy as well as the wider Taunton Deane economy,” he said.
“The company is a large employer and I hope that it can reopen quickly. At this stage the cause of the fire has not been established.
“I would like to thank the many firefighters who responded to the call and contained the blaze so efficiently, and our own building control team for its swift response.”
12:12pm Sun 21 Jul 13
So saddened to hear about the Waitrose fire. Do hope it isn't arson!
SHOPPER Anna Middleton learned of the news as she turned up at the store this morning.
She said: "I can't believe what's happened, it's a shock. I love Waitrose, it's one of my favourite shops in town.
"It's where I get my rye bread."
EYE-WITNESS Peter Radford snapped this dramatic photo on his camera.
Mr Radford, who lives opposite the store, said: "My wife woke me up at around 6.25am and said Waitrose was on fire.
"I looked out of the window and was greeted with a dramatic sight. The fire brigade were here extremely quickly, they were terrific.
"Fortunately the wind was blowing the other direction, away from the store, otherwise it could have spread and been much worse."
COMMENTING on the County Gazette Facebook page, Steve Andrews said: "This is a bad day for all the staff there.
"Hopefully the store will reopen soon; my heart goes out to all of you who work there."
JAMES Lyall, deputy manager at Waitrose in Wellington, said he was unable to comment at this early stage.
Mr Lyall confirmed an investigation was underway into the cause of the blaze.
REPORTER Michael Marsh at the scene: "The canopy of the roof seems to be worst affected by the fire.
"Fire inspectors are currently on the site and taking notes and crowds are gathering by the crossroads traffic lights, many just learning of the news."
To view a video from the scene, click here.
WELLINGTON Mayor Gloria Copley, pictured above, said she was "appalled" by the news.
Speaking at the scene, she told the County Gazette: "I'm absolutely appalled that this should happen in Wellington, especially to a shop that has done so much for the town.
"People don't realise how good they have been; they've been supportive of whatever the town council has wanted to do and I hope they're open again soon.
"I'm pleased nobody was seriously injured.
"If this is an arson attack I sincerely hope the perpetrators are caught and dealt with."
FIRE services now believe the fire to be out.
50% of the roof has been destroyed and the cause is still being investigated.
#wellingtonwaitrose on fire :( http://t.co/7i5rnHiYTX— @DWNLacey 21 July 2013
OMG large fire burns down half of Waitrose Store in Wellington!!!! I love Waitrose— @MrsAitchBee 21 July 2013
UPDATES from a Devon and Somerset Fire Service spokesman.
7.46am - The Fire Service is currently carrying out fire investigation at this incident.
7.51am - Fire crews have requested the attendance of an incident support unit from Yeovil for additional drinking water, firefighter welfare and salvage equipment.
7.54am - The Environment Agency have been informed of a quantity of run off entering the water courses from this incident.
7.56am - Fire crews have requested the attendance of a buildings inspector from Taunton Deane Borough Council.
8.29am - Two aerial ladder platforms are now being used for access to inspect hot spots using a thermal image camera and cut away areas affected by fire using small tools.
Photo: Twitter (Trish Lettley).
DID you see the fire this morning on your way into Wellington? Leave your eye witness acounts via the comments panel or email newsdesk@countygazette or tweet us @CountyGazette
Just to let you all know, Waitrose in Wellington is on fire, in a big way!!!!— @tearesnews 21 July 2013
#wellingtonwaitrose pics from fire http://t.co/Yk6trK4eEK— @tearesnews 21 July 2013
Eight fire engines/dozens of firefighters are tackling a fire at Waitrose in Wellington. Started around 6.30am, still going. Cause unknown.— @GazetteDMilli 21 July 2013
Half of Wellington waitrose has been burnt down!!— @_charlottekerr_ 21 July 2013
THIS is the scene of the fire.
FIREFIGHTERS are tackling a large fire that has started at the Waitrose supermarket in Wellington town centre this morning (July 21).
The incident started at around 6.30am with eight fire engines from as far afield as Tiverton joining crews from Taunton and Wellington to help tackle the blaze.
The cause of the fire is not yet known but as pictures show the damage could be significant.
A building inspector is being called to the site to check whether it is secure and the fire is ongoing.
Photo: Twitter (Trish Lettley).