A 25-year-old local man has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life following a major fire on Friday evening, which destroyed Owens Group’s Bridgend warehouse and a “long term” customer’s stock, within minutes.

Owen fire 5

Credit: Ricky Elward

All staff were evacuated before the building collapsed, around seven minutes into the blaze, which devastated the entire facility, along with stock belongng to an Owens Group client. There were no casualties.

In a statement Huw Owen, group MD, said: ”At approximately 8.30pm on Friday 19th January 2024 Owens Group alerted the fire service of a significant incident at one of our warehouses at Kingsway, Bridgend.

”A significant fire took hold, and all emergency services were in attendance within minutes. All our staff exited the warehouse safely and have been accounted for. Thankfully none have suffered any injuries.

”The fire has affected stock belonging to one of our long-term customers and we are working closely with them on a recovery plan to ensure continuity of service to their customers.

”We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to  all emergency services who responded and especially members of the fire service who set about containing the fire as best they could.

He added: ”Owens Group would also like to extend our sincere apologies for all of our fellow businesses in the immediate area who have been impacted by this unfortunate incident.”

Source: Matthew Horwood photography

Remains of Owens Group Bridgend warehouse

South Wales Police confirmed that a 25-year-old local man has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, adding that ”full investigation into the incident will begin as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The police force added that that efforts have also begun to enable neighbouring premises to resume business as usual when the area is secure.

The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) sent 10 engines, four water carriers and two aerial ladder platforms to tackle the blaze overnight.

SWFRS said the blaze had caused “extensive fire damage” to the 288,000 sq ft building.

A spokesman added that its crews ”worked extremely hard in difficult conditions to bring the fire under control” and that the blaze had been prevented from spreading to neighbouring businesses and that multiple “high value items” were salvaged. 

Fire crews were supported at the scene by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, South Wales Police, the Welsh Ambulance Service, Natural Resources Wales, National Grid and Bridgend council.

“SWFRS will work closely with SWP to establish the origin, cause and development of the fire, but this is unlikely to take place until next week,”the spokesman added.

He said Kingsway, Queens Road and South Road would be closed for the “foreseeable” future.

Eyewitness Abby Bolter told the BBC she heard a “large bang” before the blaze adding: “I heard people shouting and assumed it was fireworks, then I saw the fire… smoke must be 200ft in the air.”