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Arson probe after town centre fires

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."

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