Probe continues into fire which took hold at Manchester Street restaurant

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 9, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

AN investigation will continue today into the cause of a fire which brought a large area of Brighton to a standstill.

Smoke billowed into the street from a fire at The Pomegranate restaurant in Manchester Street, Brighton, yesterday afternoon attended by 35 firefighters.

The restaurant, which specialises in Middle Eastern cuisine, white smoke was seen billowing from its roof at about 2.20pm with one witness describing flames leaping from an opening.

A 23-year-old woman living next to the restaurant was woken by the smell of smoke.

She said: “I thought I could smell birthday candles and then I could hear alarms and people shouting, ‘Get out, get out.’

“I looked out the window and it was white with smoke.

“It was so smoky outside and we didn’t know how much it was going to spread. We just got out as quickly as we could.”

She fled with her flatmates and their pet rats in a cage.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue received 16 separate 999 calls about the blaze from concerned passers-by.

In the end seven fire engines and support vehicles were sent to the scene from stations in Brighton, Hove, Roedean, Newhaven and Lewes.

About 18 firefighters wearing breathing gear hauled hoses up the stairs through thick smoke to tackle the flames, which were initially concealed behind boxed-in vertical ventilation ducting.

Crews had to pull the boxing away to get at the fire.

Matthew Lloyd, station commander of Hove and Roedean, has been fighting fires for nearly 20 years and told The Argus it was one of the more complex blazes his crews have tackled.

He said: “What we were confronted with had the potential to have been developing for a while.

“Initial thoughts are that it spread up the flue. There was severe damage to the roof space.

“The firefighting operation went on for about an hour and a half. The team did an absolutely fantastic job and I’m very lucky to have such highly-trained professionals.”

He said he believed the fire was associated with vent shaft, which runs from the basement kitchen up into the roof space.

An aerial platform was used to survey the scene from above as white smoke swirled around in the winter breeze.

An investigation is set to conclude today that will establish the official cause of the fire and the owner is talking to the fire service about when he can reopen.

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