A fire-starter who caused around £250,000 of damage by sparking a blaze in offices above a post office in Wolverhampton is being hunted by police.
Officers today released this image of a man they want to trace in connection with the arson attack.
The fire is believed to have started after someone crept into the post office building in Darlington Street and set light to rubbish in an upstairs store room which contained paint cans.
The offices on the third floor were damaged by fire and water while the post office was damaged by smoke.
Around 50 firefighters tackled the blaze, which forced the closure of Darlington Street between Beatties to Red Lion Street on June 15.
The street was closed off from the time of the fire at around 4.30am until 2pm. Police today issued a description of a man they want to speak to in connection with their inquiries and released CCTV footage.
He is a light-skinned Asian male, around 20, 5ft 6ins tall, with short dark hair, a straight fringe and a pencil thin beard. He was wearing a white V neck T shirt, dark trousers and dark plimsolls with white soles.
Pc Ben Lyttleton said he was a ‘distinctive looking man’.
“He’s spotted on CCTV entering the post office and then leaving shortly before a serious fire broke out,” he said. “There doesn’t appear to be any motive for the arson attack – the suspect is seen walking past and then returning after noticing the door was ajar. And nothing was stolen. The blaze caused extensive damage and could easily have spread to other buildings and thankfully no-one was hurt but we need to identify this man as soon as possible.”
The fire took hold on the second and third floors of the four-storey building and ripped through tiles on the roof.
A hole was left in the roof, which could be seen from the rear of the building in Townwell Fold.
Anyone who recognises the man or has information on the fire should call Pc Lyttleton at Wolverhampton Police Station on 101.
Darlington Street post office reopened earlier this month following a separate refurbishment.
The branch was closed from July 24 to August 1 while work to modernise it was carried out.
It now opens for a further eight hours each week, between 9am and 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays.
At the time of the fire, West Midlands Fire Service spokesman Nigel Snowdon said 50 firefighters had initially attended but due to the ‘rapid knock down’ of the blaze, the number had quickly halved.
Police and firefighters were called to the scene and an investigation was quickly launched. It is believed neighbouring Kitchen Revivals & Flintstone also suffered some internal water damage during the efforts to extinguish the fire. The fire was immediately reported as a suspected arson attack.