Man charged in $2M Wortley Village café fire

A 20-year-old man has been charged with arson two days after a devastating multimillion-dollar blaze destroyed a popular Wortley Village cafe.

The Black Walnut Café at 134 Wortley Road caught fire at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters spent hours trying to extinguish the flames. Attempts were initially made to fight the fire from the inside and the outside, but the collapse of the attic made it too dangerous for staff to remain in the building. Ultimately, the only surefire way to fully extinguish the fire and numerous hotspots was to use heavy equipment to level the two-story building.

No injuries were reported, and damage from the fire was estimated at $2 million.

While no specific details of the possible cause have been released, London police and fire officials believe the fire is suspicious. The cafe owner suggested in a social media post that the fire was started outside before spreading inside the building.

On Tuesday, it was announced that he had been arrested.

Sean Moyles, 20, from London, was charged with one count of arson with disregard for life and one count of arson causing damage to property. He was due to appear in London on the charges on Tuesday.

In addition to leaving a large hole in the Old South neighborhood, the fire has saddened many in the community. Since 2011, Black Walnut Café has been a popular spot for those looking for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dessert. Its second cafe, on Richmond Street near Piccadilly, remains open.

The Old South Business Association created a online fundraiser For the owner of the cafe. Through the site, people can choose to donate cash or purchase limited edition T-shirts and Old Southern Cafe 16″ x 20″ posters. The fundraiser has raised nearly $3,000 since it launched late Monday.

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