A week after a devastating fire brought a town centre to a standstill, traders say they're still suffering the effects. The Works bookshop in Maidstone was destroyed by the blaze in the early hours last Monday morning. It's believed to have caused several million pounds of damage. And with one of the main streets still closed, retailers say they're suffering a loss of trade. Tom Savvides talks to shop manager Michael Wright and building surveyor David Harrison.
Police have arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with a fire that destroyed a bookshop in Maidstone on Monday.
The fire started just after 2am in Week Street and quickly spread to adjoining properties.
The man is from the Maidstone area and is being held in custody.
Meanwhile the police are continuing to work to establish any potential links with a series of car fires in the Buckland Road and Somerfield Road area earlier the same morning.
A man who police were questioning in connection with major fires in Maidstone yesterday has been released without charge.
Kent Police are continuing to look at the circumstances of the blaze and say it remains an active investigation.
Access has been closed off to the roads where the fire-damaged buildings are located.
However, other businesses also have to remain closed for safety reasons, while the area surrounding the affected buildings is made secure.
In the space of 24 hours, there have been three big fires in the south east. In the first, smoke and flames leapt in the air at the Medway City Estate - and at one stage could be seen across three counties.
Then, as firefighters were tackling that blaze at the recycling plant, a major fire started in Maidstone town centre. In Sussex, sixteen acres of Ashdown forest were destroyed as grassland went up in flames.
It's put the fire services under real pressure as David Johns reports.
He spoke to Steve Jeffery from Kent Fire & Rescue Service; Chief Superintendent Steve Corbishley from Kent Police; and David Harrison from Maidstone Borough Council.
A man has been arrested after a fire destroyed a bookshop in the middle of Maidstone in Kent overnight.
The blaze at "The Works" on Week Street also affected four other neighbouring stores. It is thought the pedestrianised area outside the shops will have to remain closed for at least 48 hours. Our reporter David Johns sent this from the scene.
The emergency services are still dealing with the aftermath of the two fires in the centre of Maidstone on Sunday. Firefighters are expected to remain at the scene for some time.
Access has been closed off to the roads where the fire-damaged buildings are located. However, that means other businesses - untouched by the flames - also have to remain closed for safety reasons, while the area surrounding the affected buildings is made secure.
David Harrison, the Emergency Planning Manager for Maidstone Borough Council, said that closing off part of Week Street from the junction with the HSBC bank to Fremlin Walk was necessary to ensure public safety.
Stallholder Kris van Haeften turned up to set up his fruit and vegetable stall in the centre of Maidstone this morning, only to find diversions and road closures near his pitch because of the fires overnight. He is worried that the closures could lead shoppers to head elsewhere in Kent.
A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the fires in the centre of Maidstone this morning. Kent Police have said a local man is in custody. The investigation continues.
An arsonist is believed to be responsible for a series of fires in a town centre including at a book shop. Firefighters were first called to reports that five cars had been set alight in two streets in Maidstone, Kent, at 1.16am today.
Then at 2.11am, fire crews were scrambled to The Works bookstore in Week Street, where a blaze had spread to three adjoining shops.
A Kent Police spokesman said: "Police inquiries into the incidents, which are being treated as suspicious, are ongoing."
A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said crews wearing breathing apparatus searched the shop and police evacuated neighbouring properties.
He said: "Firefighters have made good progress in tackling this very large fire which has affected four shops in Week Street, Maidstone.
"Fifteen crews were at the scene at the height of the fire, but by 6am this was reduced to six. They have been using breathing apparatus, 10 main jets and two aerial appliances.
"There are no casualties reported. Properties in the area have been evacuated and Maidstone High Street and Week Street are currently closed."
Firefighters have been tackling a fire in the centre of Maidstone through the night. The blaze at the Works bookshop started just after 2amRead the full story ›