Shoppers at a Woolworths supermarket in Adelaide were in a life-threatening situation when the store was reportedly intentionally set on fire. Two 14-year-old boys have been charged with arson for the incident that occurred on Mount Barker Rd in Stirling on a Sunday afternoon.
The fire was so intense that it required over 100 firefighters from both the Country Fire Service (CFS) and Metropolitan Fire Service to combat it. It is believed that the fire originated in one of the store’s aisles and eventually consumed the entire supermarket. This destructive blaze also caused damage to nearby shops and resulted in approximately $15 million in damages.
The Stirling Village shopping centre was evacuated in response to the escalating situation as explosions and thick black smoke emanated from the building. Thankfully, no one sustained injuries during this incident.
CFS executive director of operations, Cameron Devey, praised the firefighters’ efforts to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to adjacent businesses.
While the supermarket was the primary casualty, smoke and water damage is expected to affect the rest of the shopping complex, which houses various small businesses. To aid firefighting efforts, power had to be temporarily cut in the area.
The two teenagers responsible for the arson, hailing from Heatherfield and Bridgewater, have been granted bail and are scheduled to appear in Mount Barker Youth Court on December 14.
Due to the large amount of smoke the fire generated, the CFS advised Stirling residents to stay indoors, close their windows, and seal their doors.
Witnesses recounted their experiences during the chaotic incident. One worker admitted that the fire initially seemed like a false alarm, but quickly realised the severity of the situation when the staff urged everyone to evacuate. Another employee praised the staff’s quick and efficient evacuation efforts, emphasising how critical their actions were in ensuring the safety of shoppers. The loss of the store saddened many, and the recovery process is expected to take several years.