Rutland’s largest fire in living memory has completely destroyed the Midlands Co-operative Society’s Superstore in Oakham.

Police are treating the devastating fire as arson and believe the inferno was caused by a gang who were attempting to remove the external cashpoint machine from the store’s outside wall. 

Early investigations suggest the gang was disturbed just before midnight on Monday 28 July and fled the scene after trying to break into the ATM using oxy-acetylene cutting equipment.

Midlands Co-op has announced plans to re-open a makeshift shop on the car park of the fire-ravaged superstore. 

Most of the 147 staff will be relocated to nearby stores.

“We are hoping this reallocation is not permanent. We have now reached agreement with our insurers to erect a temporary structure comprising 10,700 sq ft of selling space on part of the car-park,” said a Midlands Co-op spokeswoman.