A Chester man had his home raided by police investigating the New Ferry blast which left people homeless and destroyed businesses.
Sixty-five-year-old Marcus Johnson was arrested on suspicion of arson and fraud over the March 25 explosion, but later released pending further investigations.
The director of Hoole discount store Against the Grain Furniture was questioned by Merseyside Police officers after a warrant was executed at his address on May 19.
Shocked workers from neighbouring buildings told our sister paper The Liverpool Echo they arrived for work and spotted a Merseyside Police matrix van, as well as an unmarked car containing uniformed officers outside Mr Johnson’s home in the centre of Chester.
Forensics workers were also seen entering and leaving the property throughout the morning.
His arrest came days after two other men were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit arson with intent or recklessness as to whether life was endangered as well as an offence under the Fraud Act 2006.
The first man, Pascal George Francois Blasio, 55 from Wallasey is listed as the director of New Ferry’s Homes In Style furniture store, which exploded on March 25.
A 62-year-old man from North Wales was also arrested. All three men have been released pending further investigations.
Records show both Mr Blasio and Mr Johnson were once co-directors of Against the Grain Furniture on Hoole Road, Chester.
Speaking before his arrest, he claimed he had not been in contact with Mr Blasio for around 10 months and said he had “no relationship with him what-so-ever”.
Companies House records show the pair were co-directors of the company for a period between January 7 2015 and July 18 2016.
Following his arrest, our colleagues at The Echo visited Mr Johnson’s furniture shop to speak to his wife and co-director of the business Helena Gurevich, but were told Mr Johnson was “in meetings” and would not be commenting.
The incident, which left two people seriously injured, dozens homeless and several local businesses without a premises, is currently the centre of a "complex” investigation by Merseyside Police.
Two people were severely injured in the explosion, with around 30 others described as “walking wounded”.
One of the men received serious head injuries and was only recently discharged from the Walton Neurological Centre. He is now being treated at a separate hospital.
Mr Blasio’s store, Homes In Style on Bebington Road, New Ferry was razed to the ground alongside a dance studio - owned by a separate business - with several neighbouring businesses also destroyed.
On Wednesday, May 17 officers from Merseyside Police raided the Wallasey home of Mr Blasio and were seen removing computers inside evidence bags.