Squatter may have caused Chapel Street fire

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A fire in an abandoned shopfront on Chapel Street forced police to block the street, delaying trams during this morning’s peak hour.

At 8.15am the Metropolitan Fire Brigade was called to a fire at 56 Chapel Street after neighbours saw smoke.

St Kilda police Sergeant Mark Robertson said a 39-year-old male squatter was on the property when a small fire was lit in the fireplace.

Smoke poured out of windows due to what Sergeant Robertson suggested might have been a blocked chimney, alerting neighbours.

About 13 firefighters from Windsor, Malvern and South Melbourne attended and put the fire out in about 10 minutes, MFB spokeswoman Meg Rayner said.

Police blocked the street between Pakington and Inkerman streets, trapping a tram in the roadblock.

The man was released pending trespass charges, expected to be laid soon.

The site was sold last year and has been vacant since except for squatters.

The owner is expected to be contacted to secure the property.

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