Police are investigating whether there is a link between a suspected arson attack on Morrison’s Leighton Buzzard store and an assault on a staff member by a child the previous day.
The Lake Street store was evacuated and closed for several hours after a suspicious fire started in the clothing section on Thursday.
Firefighters were called at 4.15pm and two fire engines from Leighton Buzzard Community Fire Station attended the supermarket.
Shoppers reported a strong smell of burning from outside the store and a haze of smoke from within.
One member of the public posted on social media: “We were in the store at the time, scary how quick it went up.” Another said: “My daughter was there and said it just went up really quickly.”
A fire service spokesman said: “There had been a small fire in the clothing department of the supermarket that had been extinguished by staff using fire extinguishers.
“100% of the shop was smoke logged and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used two positive pressure ventilation fans to clear the smoke from the area. A fire investigation concluded the fire was of suspicious origin. There were no casualties.”
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “The fire was extinguished quickly, no-one was hurt and the store was reopened in a matter of hours.
“We are grateful to our staff who managed the situation - and our customers, who have been patient. The matter is now in hands of the police and we are helping them with their enquiries.”
Just 24 hours earlier on the Wednesday, police were informed of an attack on a staff member in the petrol station.
One witness posted on social media that a family had entered the petrol station. He said the group included two boys aged 4-6 who were allegedly taking sweets, with one climbing the shelving.
He said the staff member had taken the sweets off them and removed the child from the shelves.
The witness said: “The man then told her to not touch other people’s children.
“There was quite a back and forth. they were essentially cornering this poor lady while she’s just doing her job!.
“One of the boys began hitting the lady and swearing at her, he was hitting her with a toy gun! The parents said nothing!”
A Beds Police spokesman said: “We received a report of an assault against an adult by a minor, which took place in Morrisons petrol station on Wednesday, October 12.
“Officers visited the informant by appointment and reviewed CCTV footage, but as the identified suspect was below the age of criminality it was not possible to prosecute.
“The information has been passed to community policing teams who cover this area and Morrisons have been provided advice.”
Of the fire, the spokesman added: “We were called at approximately 4.40pm on Thursday to support the fire service who were at the scene of a fire in Morrisons in Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard. An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.”