Sidmouth: Knowle blaze treated as arson as police reveal site was targeted just days before huge fire destroyed building

A huge fire which destroyed the former East Devon District Council HQ at Knowle in Sidmouth is being treated as a suspected arson by police. 

Officers have appealed for information and revealed the premises had been targeted just days days before the major blaze in the early hours of Thursday, March 30.

Firefighters tackled a ‘small’ blaze at the same location on Sunday, march 26.

Police say both incidents are linked and have released a description of a suspect seen at the scene in Knowle Drive on the earlier date.

fire Sidmouth East Devon

How the fire looked when some of the East Devon crews arrived.
Photo: Exmouth Fire Station.

A force spokesperson said:  “Police are appealing for witnesses following a suspected arson at the former headquarters of East Devon District Council in Sidmouth.

“The fire service was first called about a fire at Knowle House, Knowle Drive, Sidmouth, at around 4.10am on Thursday 30 March, although the fire is thought to have first started at around 2.30am.

“The building was extensively damaged during the incident which is being treated as arson.

“Police had a previous report of a small fire at the same location on Sunday, March 26, which was extinguished by the fire service with little damage being caused.”

“On Sunday, March 26, one witness reported seeing a man at the scene, who was described as a white male in his early 20s, of medium build with dark hair and wearing camouflage trousers.

“Officers are investigating both incidents, which they believe may be linked and are appealing for anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the area to contact them.

fire Sidmouth East Devon

Aerial platform ladders are among the kit used to tackle the blaze.
Photo: Graham Symington.


Residents were urged to keep windows closed because of smoke.
Photo: David Hosker.

“If you witnessed the incident or have any information or dashcam footage that could help with enquiries, please contact police via our website here or by calling 101 quoting 50230073429.

“Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously online at or by calling freephone 0800 555111.”

PHOTOS and VIDEO: Firefighters battle building blaze in Sidmouth – former council offices have been on fire since the early hours of the morning

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