Cape Town - 140513 - Cavendish Square was evacuated after an alleged robber set alight the Diesel clothing store in an apparent escape attempt. Reporter: Zodidi Dano Picture: David Ritchie (083 652 4951)

Cape Town - A man who sprayed petrol in Cavendish Square’s Diesel store and set it alight is believed to have cost stores in the upmarket shopping centre thousands of rand in lost sales on Tuesday.

And further losses are expected as a result of water damage caused by automatic sprinklers in stores on the ground and first floors.

Just before 9.30am a 28-year-old man entered the first-floor store, sprayed petrol over the display window and set it alight.

Cavendish Square manager Brenda Bibby said the centre was evacuated within minutes. Bibby declined to comment on the extent of lost sales. No injuries were reported.

Police spokesman FC van Wyk said the man had been arrested.

“Personnel fled from the store unharmed. Security personnel apprehended the suspect before he could flee from the mall.”

The circumstances leading to the incident were unknown.

Cavendish Square resumed trading at about 1pm.

Stores on the first and ground floors were flooded.

Police cordoned off most of the first floor, although some shops were open and were awaiting the go-ahead from the centre’s management to resume trading.

Evacuated store staff and customers mingled in the parking lot opposite the mall.

A woman, who works at Partners Hair Salon on the first floor, said they had been rushed out of the mall at 9.30am.

“I just heard an irregular sound that seemed to have been coming from the air conditioner. When I went to check what was happening I saw smoke coming from the direction of the Diesel store.”

A security guard said he saw woman staff running out of the store.

“Diesel only has female staff members, so I was alarmed when they came out running and saw smoke.

“A guy from the store next door took a fire extinguisher and tried putting the fire out.”

[email protected]

Cape Argus