The body of a man has been discovered inside the Kard Bar in Newcastle following a major fire at the premises yesterday.
Although a formal identification has not been made, it is believed that this may be the body of 81-year-old Brian Sandells. He was found during a limited search of the building. He is known to live at Kard Bar and has not been seen since yesterday and his family have been unable to contact him. Northumbria Police are keeping the family updated and will continue to support them at this difficult time.
Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service are continuing to work together to investigate the cause of the fire which destroyed a large section of the building on Cross Street in the city centre. The damage caused by the fire has made the structure of the building potentially unsafe and so it has been extremely difficult for fire and police officers to get inside the building and carry out a full investigation of the premises. The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage and a full investigation will be carried out.
Northumbria Police Superintendent Bruce Storey said: "This is a very difficult and complex investigation due to the nature and severity of the damage caused to the building and detectives are working alongside specialist fire investigation officers and structural engineers to carry out inquiries as to how and why the fire started.
"We are extremely saddened to say that we believe that Brian Sandals, who was a resident in one of the flats above the shop, was inside his home at the time the fire happened and may have passed away during the fire. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and we working to try confirm this for his family.
"I’d like to thank the residents in the city for their cooperation and actions yesterday, they were extremely helpful and supportive to the emergency services while dealing with what was a critical incident for the city centre and we are working with Newcastle City Council and other partners to try and get the area back to normal as soon as possible.
"Most of the residents living in Cross Street who were evacuated as a precaution yesterday have been allowed back into their homes and we are working as hard as we can to ensure that local businesses near to the Kard Bar can re-open, however this will only happen when the local authority and fire service are happy that it is safe to do so."
Westgate Road is now re-open to traffic and pedestrians as normal with a small cordon in place around the Kard Bar building. This will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
The investigation into the fire remains ongoing and police and fire investigators are working to establish what has happened, anyone who thinks they have any information that could help us with the enquiries is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference number 189 01/12/15.