A GIRL of just TEN has been arrested on suspicion of starting a blaze that caused £150,000-worth of damage to Accrington's Glyn Webb DIY store.
The suspected child arsonist was also questioned about smaller blazes at Barnes Furniture on Church Street and Krunchy Fried Chicken on Blackburn Road last weekend.
Despite her age, she is old enough to face criminal charges and has been released on bail while further inquiries are made.
It is understood she was caught on CCTV cameras as she left Glyn Webb shortly before the fire was spotted at 6.15pm last Thursday.
The blaze, which started on the first floor, left the Blackburn Road home improvement store in ruins and closed a key section of Blackburn Road for hours.
Thick smoke was made worse by burning chemicals and a fleet of fire engines battled for hours to contain the inferno.
The shop, which takes more than £25,000 a week, was open at the time and was filled with shoppers and staff when the fire tore through the building and ripped out part of the roof. All were evacuated safely down the stairs and out of the rear exit, although a number suffered smoke inhalation and shock.
Glyn Webb area manager Paul Craven said at the scene: "I was very shocked and concerned for the staff when I got the call. The assistant manager saw smoke coming towards him and went to investigate but it was too big for him to control."
"His first and most important thought was to evacuate."
Outside the shop, which lies between Oscar Bears Children's Nursery and Empire Bingo, debris and damaged stock was piled 10ft high against the smoke-stained walls.
Donald Miller, 45, of Brunswick Terrace, said: "I heard a bang and my wife screamed. I looked out and saw flames licking from the ground-floor window. The firefighters were really quick and didn't mess about."
On Friday, store manager Ian Grenfell was busy liaising with investigating fire and police chiefs.
He also visited staff who were recovering from shock, including one who suffered an asthma attack as smoke filled the building.
She was taken to hospital but discharged soon afterwards.
Police studied CCTV footage of the minutes leading up to the fire and used a forensic scientist to determine whether it had been started deliberately.
Traffic on Blackburn Road was disrupted for more than 24 hours, and adjoining Oxford Street was closed for days as workmen removed melted shop signs.
Mr Craven added: "It's so depressing. The company has been here for a long time and you don't expect this in the normal course of retail. We are assessing the damage to get the place re-opened as fast as we can."
The damage includes £100,000-worth of ruined stock and £50,000 structural damage.
A quarter of the first floor was destroyed and the rest smoke-damaged.
The store had been rebuilt following a bigger fire in 1995, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, which caused over £1M worth of damage.
Detective Sergeant Mark Lee said: "Following inquiries regarding the fire at Glyn Webb, police can confirm that a 10-year-old local girl has been arrested on suspicion of arson."
"She has been released on police bail to return to Greenbank police station at a later date."