Fire at council offices in south OxfordshireEmergency services at the council offices in south Oxfordshire.

A sheep shearer is being questioned by police on suspicion of arson following three major fires in south Oxfordshire.

Andrew Main, 47, of Roke Marsh Farm House, Roke, in Wallingford, is under arrest following three fires, including one at a council office building.

Mr Main is being held following a blaze at South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) in Crowmarsh Gifford, a nearby funeral parlour and a thatched cottage in Quakers Corner, Rokes Marsh.

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All three fires broke out within minutes of each other shortly after 3am on Thursday (15 January).

Up to 150 firefighters in 27 crews from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service took part in the operation to battle the blazes.

Thames Valley Police said all three fires were being linked and were believed to be suspicious.

“We are working with the Fire Service and the South Oxfordshire District Council as we investigate these fires and the motivation behind the arson.” Superintendent Andy Boyd, Thames Valley Police

Police believe a car ploughed into the SODC building before the fire, which gutted the council’s planning offices, took hold. Gas canisters were discovered at all three fire scenes.

No one was injured in the fires, which have caused millions of pounds of damage

Superintendent Andy Boyd, of Thames Valley Police, said: “We are working with the Fire Service and the South Oxfordshire District Council as we investigate these fires and the motivation behind the arson.

“We believe they were not random and would like to reassure the public that they are not believed to be terrorist-related nor do we believe there is any likelihood of further danger to the public at this stage.”

A local council source told Farmers Weekly: “His family owns a big scrapyard at the top of the village. He keeps a few sheep and he shears sheep for other people.”

Another local, who did not want to be named, said: “I understand he went to Australia to learn sheep shearing. The farm is only about four acres.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said on Friday (16 January): “The flames have been extinguished and the forensic teams have been able to go onto the scenes to investigate.

“A 47-year-old suspect remains in custody and will do so until later this evening when a decision will be taken over bail or whether to apply for more time for questioning.”