A probe into the Carluccio’s fire which shut Bicester Village for five hours has found it could have started from outside the restaurant.
The blaze needed 35 firefighters to tackle the flames on Wednesday morning when it broke out shortly before the designer shops opened.
But staff, workers and shoppers who had parked up were evacuated to a nearby field while seven crews used an aerial platform ladder to tackle the fire.
Flames spread quickly and destroyed the roof of Carluccio’s restaurant while Bicester Village chiefs scrambled to shut the whole outlet. No one was injured.
A fire service spokesman said the chance of the fire starting from outside of the building is ‘one line of thinking’.
He said: “A fire to a roof is quite serious. I don’t think there is a suggestion of arson and it’s not being looked at as a criminal matter.”
A spokesman for Carluccio’s said no queries could be answered because the probe is ongoing but thanked the emergency services for their ‘swift response and efficient handling’.
Bicester Village reopened at 1pm after the fire broke out at 8,30am, with the exception of 12 stores and the visitor centre.
A spokesman for Bicester Village said: “The fire service were exceptional in their handling of the fire and the damage has been limited to the restaurant. Customers have been very understanding.”
Twitter feeds were filled with photos and videos of the burning roof and TV crews rushed to get the best vantage point.
An eyewitness said: “It was obviously breaking through the roof and it was unusual to see an empty car park at Bicester Village.
“It’s a shame to see such a popular restaurant suffer such bad damage.
“There were TV crews there and the fireman on the platform was kicking off the tiles so they could see what was going on.”
The outlet tweeted: “#BicesterVillage is temporarily closed due to a restaurant fire which is being attended to by fire brigade.
The fire service were exceptional in their handling of the fire”Bicester Village
“Happily everyone on site is safe.”
Crews including those from Bicester, Oxford & Buckingham battled the blaze but the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.