Grinch arsonist suspected in Christmas tree fire at Porirua North City mall

 

 

Police suspect the fire was deliberately set and are investigating, including reviewing CCTV footage.

Police suspect the fire was deliberately set and are investigating, including reviewing CCTV footage. – MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Police are investigating a suspected arson after a fire at Porirua’s North City shopping centre forced the evacuation of the entire mall on Friday afternoon.

It was suspected the fire – in which no one was injured – was deliberately lit among Christmas decorations in the toy section of Kmart, a police spokeswoman said.

“Some Christmas decorations have been damaged by fire, including a festively decorated tree. Police are at the scene and investigations are being carried out.

“It’s thought that some CCTV footage may lead to locating the Grinch who stole Christmas so early,” the spokeswoman said.

Shoppers were evacuated around 4:30pm after a small fire broke out in Kmart at North City mall in Porirua.

Shoppers were evacuated around 4:30pm after a small fire broke out in Kmart at North City mall in Porirua. – MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

“There’s so many combustibles in there. It could have been disastrous. The sprinkler contained it long enough for us to get in there,” Porirua Fire Brigade senior station officer Dene Wade said.

He commended the staff and management for their quick evacuation and organisation. “They knew what to do.”

Fire and Emergency shift manager Belinda Beets said the fire was called in on 111 at 4.10pm.

An alarm had gone off and the sprinkler system had activated in Kmart, which had contained the fire.

Beets said there were two fire engines in attendance and no reported injuries.

Porirua's North City mall was evacuated after a fire in Kmart on Friday afternoon. Police suspect the fire was deliberately lit.

Porirua’s North City mall was evacuated after a fire in Kmart on Friday afternoon. Police suspect the fire was deliberately lit. – MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Porirua resident Barbara Doyer was evacuated at about 4.30pm.

“We came out of Millers and there was a suspicious smell.”

“We heard it was on the roof, or maybe coming from Kmart. I heard it’s contained,” shopper Dylan Jones said.

The suspected arson lit up this festively adorned tree and scorched some nearby pink flamingos.

The suspected arson lit up this festively adorned tree and scorched some nearby pink flamingos. – NZ POLICE

Gerard Earl, director for mall manager Colliers International, said systems had activated as expected and the mall had been evacuated promptly and swiftly.

Earl expected it would be open again by 9am on Saturday after it had been properly assessed.

He said there was a managed process underway to retrieve cars from the mall’s car park.

Evacuated shoppers watch on as emergency services arrive.

Evacuated shoppers watch on as emergency services arrive. – MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

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