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Police hunting for town centre arsonist who torched clothes in Kingston M&S
2:05pm Tuesday 18th December 2012 in News
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Marks and Spencer said there was minimal damage in today's fire.
A spokesman said: "We take the safety of our customers and employees extremely seriously and their wellbeing is our highest priority.
“Nobody was hurt during the incident and there was minimal disruption caused to the store, which has now resumed trading.
"We are now assisting the police with their investigation and cannot comment any further."
Police have arrested a 52-year-old man on suspicion of arson in connection with a series of fires in shops today.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the man was now in custody in a West London police station.
Police have confirmed fires in Richmond town centre yesterday may be connected to today's arson attacks.
A spokesman for Richmond police said: "Enquires are on going and we are unable to confirm at this stage if the offences are linked."
A helicopter hovers above Marks and Spencer
White stuff store manager Anthony Di Biase said shutting the shop could have costs thousands in lost revenue.
He said: "We were shut for over and hour and half during the busiest part of the shopping day in the run up to Christmas. It was a big financial hit.
"There were clothes damaged but the real money is lost revenue. The shop was completely full when we were forced to evacuate."
Inside Gap a section has been cordoned off awaiting police forensics investigators
The list of shops now includes Reiss, as well as both branches of Marks and Spencer, Gap, Monsoon and Superdry
London Fire Brigade incident commander Simon Browning from Surbiton fire station confirmed there have been seven small fires at shops in Kingston, all of which have been put out.
He said three fire trucks would remain in the town centre on standby in case there are further incidents.
He said: "We were called to Marks and Spencer at 1.15pm to reports of a fire.
"When we got here we discovered several further incidents.
"Police have advised us there is a man going round setting fire to clothes inshops around the town centre.
"We will remain here this afternoon in case of any other fire reports but this is now a police investigation."
Hannah Crompton, a journalism student at Kingston University who earlier said she had seen a man being arrested, said she has since been told he was not the arsonist.
She said a member of Eden Walk security confirmed man arrested outside McDonald's was not the man police were looking for in connection with the arsons.
Traders say police are still looking for a man wearing Nike trainers, combat trousers and a black top aged about 40 years old.
Virtually no police left on the ground although firefighters are still there, according to another witness
Police have not yet commented on today's series of attacks, which are believed to have begun shortly before 1pm.
Think all has returned to normal in Kingston after earlier reports of folk going round setting fire to clothes http://t.co/01YVv93r— @robpowe11 18 December 2012
Hannah Crompton, a journalism student at Kingston University, said she had seen a man being arrested at about 2pm.
She said: "A man has just been arrested outside McDonalds on Eden Street.
"He was taken away in handcuffs and a plastic bag over the handcuffs."
Dave Mccreadie was in Mark and Spencer doing Xmas shopping when it was evacuated. He said: "The alarm went off at first everyone ignored it like they do. Then security started herding everyone out started to get scary. I didn't see or even smell anything but was told by security stuff was on fire."
Looks like another clothing fire at white stuff #Kingston @Radio_Jackie http://t.co/MkW0B4Bv #Kingston via @markdn81— @rightnowio_feed 18 December 2012
Two fire engines parked outside M&S Kingston. http://t.co/un0lfiUk— @broken_remote 18 December 2012
Firefighters outside Marks and Spencer have confirmed clothes have been set on fire in at least six locations around Kingston.
They include both Marks and Spencer, Monsoon, Gap and Superdry.
Marks and Spencer has now reopened
Clothes were extinguished outside the department store
Police are checking cars in Kingston, Richmond Road and in Tesco New Malden.
A resident said: "It's as if they are looking for something. Many many police."