Police search for suspect in fire that shut down Superstore in Halifax

A fire in the paper towel aisle shut down the Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax Friday evening.

The fire in the paper towel aisle of the store is believed to have been intentionally set

Police are looking white man in his late 40s or early 50s in connection with an arson Friday evening at the Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax. (Google Maps)

Halifax police are looking for a suspect who may have started a fire Friday evening in the paper towel aisle of the Atlantic Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive.

The fire, ruled an arson, shut down the 24-hour store. It re-opened Saturday at 10:30 a.m. There were no injuries.

Police say the suspect is a white male in his late 40s or early 50s with grey hair and a goatee. He was wearing thick-rimmed glasses, a blue, puffy waist-length coat, jeans and a blue ball cap.

Corey Beals, division commander for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, said the call came in at about 6 p.m. Friday.

'Things just don't spontaneously combust'

He said fire damage was confined to the paper towel area, but there was smoke damage throughout the store, as well as minimal water damage. The store's size made it difficult to clear the smoke, he said.

"Obviously, there's no electricity within that paper aisle and those types of things just don't spontaneously combust," said Beals about the arson ruling.

It isn't clear whether the fire began with paper towel, toilet paper or something else. Store staff was able to extinguish the fire, said Loblaw spokesman Mark Boudreau.

Fire crews were on scene until about 8:30 p.m. Friday. Police are now dealing with the matter.

Most Joe Fresh clothing removed

"This is one of the first times I've heard of somebody intentionally setting a fire inside a grocery store, especially a grocery store that's occupied," Beals said.

Boudreau said because of smoke damage, most of the clothing in the Joe Fresh section had to be removed from the floor. He said the store is looking to donate the clothes.

A health inspector was brought in to assess the site. Boudreau said there's strict protocol in place dictating when a store can reopen after a fire because air quality concerns and the possibility of food contamination.

Police are asking anyone with information to call 902-490-5016 or make an anonymous tip through Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers.