Supermarket reopens months after arson attack
Staff at a supermarket which was gutted in an arson attack say they are looking forward to moving back in to the renovated store this weekend.
Tesco Express at Mill Court, near Mace Lane, Ashford, was devastated by a blaze in March, after an arsonist set fire to goods at the back of the building. Flames spread to the roof and inside the supermarket, and melted the steel girders to the point where the building was not structurally safe. The supermarket was then closed along with the neighbouring Paydens Pharmacy shop.
Staff were told they would be switched back to the town centre store while the repair works were carried out to the building.
Contractors first had to clear the rubble of the former store, starting by removing the roof tiles in April.
Stock inside was also removed in the same month, then in the summer they began work to cut through the steel girders.
In October new steel was applied. Now the roof has been restored and signs placed around the store.
Shift leader Georgina Austen said staff are eager for the reopening at 10am on Saturday.
She said: “We are excited and can’t wait to work there again. It seems so long now since the fire. The majority of the staff worked in the town centre store, so we are still together.
“But Mace Lane was our home. We have staff who have worked there for a long time, so it has been difficult not knowing when we would finally be back there.”
Police say no arrests were made following the fire, despite an extensive inquiry. Spokesman Amanda Wills said: “A number of lines of inquiry were pursued, including house to house, forensics, CCTV and a media appeal for witnesses. Anyone who does have information about the fire is asked to call us or Crimestoppers.”
The police crime line is 01843 222289, crime can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The incident reference for the case is ZY/12485/17.
Then and now: Top, the fire-damaged Tesco Express at Mill Court, off Mace Lane, Ashford; above, working on the rebuild and the store now, ready for its reopening this weekend