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Did musician torch pub manager’s flat?
The manager of the Grey Horse Pub in Kingston has urged people to help identify a suspected arsonist who left her nursing serious burns after a row over a hot lemon drink.
Bar manager Katie Fletcher knows she is lucky not to have lost everything in the blaze. Deadlinepix FK988-03
Katie Fletcher, 22, got back to her flat near the pub on Thursday, March 23, just as her room was catching fire.
Ignoring her own safety, she picked up and threw out a fireball of burning material with her bare hands, which police suspect was thrown into her room.
She saved her flat and those below but in doing so suffered first and second degree burns to her arm and finger.
Top of the police's list of suspects is a man due to perform at the Ram Jam Club, a popular music venue behind the Grey Horse in Richmond Road, on the same night.
They believe he may have targeted the manager after he got upset at being charged for a hot water and lemon drink.
Police believe he asked for the drink at about 9.30pm, but became irate when staff tried to charge him. He then abused bar staff and threatened to come back and commit criminal damage.
A police spokeswoman said: "About half an hour later Ms Fletcher discovered her bedroom was alight. Luckily the fire did not spread throughout the flat because she managed to put it out."
Ms Fletcher, whose injuries will take months to heal, believes some people know the man, and urged them to come forward.
She said: "If me and my friend had not arrived back and found it in that five minutes, my whole flat would have gone up, my cat would have been killed and I would have lost everything. As it is there has been about £1,000 of damage.
"It annoys me that nobody seems to make an effort except police. We know he's a local musician who plays in all the local venues.
"I'm thinking about moving out now, I don't want to be here any more."
Jono McCleery, who was headlining at the Ram Jam on the night in question, said he was one of the few people who actually realised what was going on, while other punters enjoyed the show.
He said: "I was just really shocked that it had happened.
"I still do not really believe it.
"It was really odd because it did not affect the night, only a few of us were aware of the commotion happening outside.
"It was really bizarre switching between the two environments and having to keep quiet about it."
Kingston fire station was called at 10.13pm and two engines and the fire investigation team arrived at the flat to find the fire already extinguished. The investigation team is working with police to find the cause.
The man they want to talk to, who rides a bike, was Indian or of mixed race, slim and about 6ft, with long, straight, shoulder-length hair.
Police are reviewing CCTV from the surrounding area.
Anyone with information should call Detective Sergeant Karen Woodroffe on 020 8247 5917.