Chip shop burglars allegedly started a fire on the premises in a bid to cover their tracks, the High Court heard today.
Prosecutors claimed the blaze located close to a gas pipe could have sparked in a major incident.
Details emerged as one of the men accused of breaking into the food outlet in Newry on June 30 was refused bail.
Adrian Feenan, 40, of Orior Park in Bessbrook, faces charges of aggravated burglary and theft, arson endangering life and possession of a claw hammer with intent to damage property.
He is further accused of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
The court heard he is alleged to have broken into the premises on Dominic Street with another man.
An empty cash register taken from upstairs rooms was dropped before the intruders fled, it was claimed.
Stephanie Boyd, prosecuting, said a fire was then discovered near to a gas pipe.
"Thankfully it (the pipe) wasn't set alight. There would have been a serious incident had it, given the area," she told the court.
"Police believe it was an attempt to steal from the property and in order to cover their tracks they set light to it."
The fire is not thought to have caused serious damage.
Feenan's barrister claimed police failed to carry out identification procedures following his arrest.
Declan Quinn argued: "This is a situation of over-charging and over-egging the pudding."
He told the judge there was no evidence his client was carrying a hammer when he allegedly came downstairs with the cash till.
But refusing bail, Mr Justice Weir said: "The serious aspect of this case is the lighting of a fire and the fact that, whoever did that, it appears to have been lit in proximity to a gas pipe.
"If that had caught light there would have been very serious consequences."