A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire ripped through a Waterstones Southampton store yesterday.
The blaze began at the Above Bar Street store at around 12.20pm according to the Southern Daily Echo, with the road was closed until around 5pm as around 30 fire fighters tackled the inferno while hundreds of people looked on.
Several road closures have been put in place by @HantsPolice around #AboveBar in Southampton as we deal with the fire at @Waterstones. Pedestrians and motorists are asked to seek alternative routes. Photo: @KieleDunne pic.twitter.com/SBzFYiUbZy— HampshireFireService (@Hants_fire) March 6, 2018
No staff or customers were injured in the blaze, but extensive damage has been done to the property, a Waterstones spokesperson said.
A 39-year-old man is currently being questioned by police about the incident, the BBC has reported.
James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said the incident was "devastating" and that the store was likely to be closed for some time.
“I think the store has been pretty badly damaged. We have some of our property people going down there now,” he told The Bookseller. “Clearly we are not going to be going back in there for some time and when we will it will need as serious refit. It is pretty devastating, but the most important thing is no one was hurt. Luckily we are a chain, it is one store of many, if it was an independent bookshop it would have been someone’s livelihood, but luckily we are not in that position. We will move staff to our other store in the city.”
#BellsDown: The @Waterstones bookshop fire on Above Bar Street in Southampton is now out, extinguished by crews from @StMarys54, @Redbridge53, @Hightown56, @Eastleigh32 , Service Headquarters and @Fareham17. https://t.co/9Kr7Bx3VeA pic.twitter.com/kTFcvbytoB— HampshireFireService (@Hants_fire) March 6, 2018
A spokesperson for the retailer added: “We are glad to report that, thankfully, all customers and booksellers are safe and that no one was injured. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing and the damage has not yet been fully assessed. It is evident, however, that the shop will be closed for a considerable time.”