THE owner of a furniture store in Chester has said he hopes the arsonists who almost destroyed his business are brought to justice.

Marcus Johnson spoke out yesterday after police confirmed a major blaze at Against the Grain on Hoole Road last summer had been started delibertately.

He told the Leader: “We have been through hell and back since the fire. If this is the authorities’ conclusion we hope the perpetrators are apprehended as soon as possible.”

Firefighters spent more than six hours battling flames at the premises, near Chester Railway Station, on the evening of Sunday, June 19, 2016.

Initially blamed on an electrical fault, the fire gutted the store destroying “huge amounts” of
stock and affecting adjacent businesses.

This newspaper revealed last July that the police and fire services had “crimed” the incident as arson – which means they were not ruling out the possibility.

But in a statement released yesterday, a spokesman for Cheshire Police said: “Following a joint investigation between Cheshire Police and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service the incident at Against the Grain is being treated as arson.”

He confirmed there had been no arrests and urged anyone with information on the blaze – or who was behind it – to contact officers immediately.

Mr Johnson previously said he was aware a number of possible causes for the fire were being looked at.

“We were told at the start that all possibilities would be investigated and basically it could be one of three things: that someone dropped a cigarette; a problem with the electrics; or that someone set fire to it,” he said.

“We were distraught after the fire. We worked hard for three years to build up the business into a successful one. We were on holiday when it happened and when we came back it was pretty harrowing.”

Against the Grain is now back up and running. Anyone with anyone with information on the fire is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 691 of June 19, 2016.