TWO teenage boys have been arrested after a fire ripped through a disused petrol station in Carterton on Monday afternoon.
The pair, aged 16 and 14 and from Carterton, were arrested on suspicion of arson and have been released under investigation.
During the incident a total of 32 calls were made to Thames Valley Fire Control by members of the public between 3.20pm and 3.44pm.
Three fire engines were sent to the scene and found the building engulfed in fire, with much of the roof collapsed.
Firefighters from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service wearing breathing apparatus used water jets to bring the blaze under control.
They were supported by both military police officers from RAF Brize Norton and Thames Valley Police, who closed the road and re-directed traffic during the incident.
Station manager Simon Belcher said: “Due to the proximity of houses within the area, our Police colleagues advised home owners to close their doors and windows to keep the smoke out of their homes.
“This was purely precautionary, as we had received confirmation from the land owner that no hazardous materials remained on site since the petrol station had ceased trading”.
Mr Belcher added “Our fire crews will remain on site into Monday evening to ensure that no hot spots are remaining within the building. The cause of the fire is not yet known and investigations are continuing with our specialist fire investigators working alongside Thames Valley Police crime scene investigators”.
James Bunting had been visiting his parents for the bank holiday when he saw smoke billowing from the former Esso station on Upavon Way.
The 25-year-old computer technician said he rushed outside after seeing thick black smoke rise over his parent’s home.
He added: “The smoke was really black and quite thick, it covered quite a lot of this part of town.
“My parents live round the corner from it we saw the smoke from the windows.
“Something must have been stored there for it to burn so quickly because it has been closed for about 15 years.
“I remember going there as a kid and getting sweets and things like that, Carterton is where I grew up.”
Upavon Way was closed in both directions while the blaze was attended to.
Mr Bunting captured a firefighter from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service hauling a hose along the pavement as the petrol station continued to burn behind him.
He added: “I took the picture at about 3.30pm and I think they must have got it under control as we can’t see any more smoke coming from it.
“I wonder how it could have started, it hasn’t been used for so many years.”
Stagecoach warned its passengers that its S1 service had to be diverted due to the fire.
Emma Rowlands was travelling on the S1 bus when they were passed by a fire engine on route to the incident.
She said: “When we got there we saw that it had quickly escalated into a mass ball of smoke.
“They closed the road and we ended up walking home as nothing could get through.”
Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Lucy Billen confirmed that police had attended at 3.30pm and the two teenage boys were subsequently arrested. They have now been released under investigation.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police via 101.