‘It felt like we were in the mid­dle of a war zone’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

AN eye wit­ness has de­scribed the fire which gut­ted a West Dray­ton gar­den cen­tre as be­ing like ‘a war zone’.

Ansell Gar­den Cen­tre was de­stroyed when fire ripped through it on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Paw­fect Style Dog Groom­ing, which is based in the grounds of the Hol­loway Lane gar­den cen­tre, nar­rowly avoided dam­age.

The sa­lon had been shut for the day, but owner Ruth Revil­las was with a mem­ber of staff and their pet dogs dec­o­rat­ing when they were alerted to the dan­gers.

She told the Gazette: “We were there when it started. Luck­ily our build­ing is 20 feet away from the gar­den cen­tre’s front door, so the fire just missed us.

“Some­one came run­ning in to us and we had to get out be­cause there was a fire. So we grabbed our dogs and left.”

She said flames got a grip within a few min­utes.

She added: “It caught alight very quickly – just a cou­ple of min­utes. Now ev­ery­thing is gone.

“The flames were re­ally bad. It was re­ally scary. It felt like we were in the mid­dle of a war zone.

“It was so loud and the heat was ridicu­lous. We could feel the fire over 100 yards away. We were pan­ick­ing.”

Fire crews were called at 4.33pm and say around 20 peo­ple had safely left the build­ing be­fore their ar­rival.

Ms Revil­las did not think there were cus­tomers in­side the build­ing at the time.

Ms Revil­las, who promised to get in touch with her cus­tomers in due course, added: “The own­ers are ob­vi­ously in pieces, they’re dev­as­tated, but they’re keep­ing pos­i­tive and I think they will try their best to bring it back to the com­mu­nity.”

On Face­book, cus­tomers have Ansell been ex­press­ing their sad­ness at the fire. Among those leav­ing com­ments were Terri Bush­nell, who wrote: “My lovely gar­den cen­tre. So sad for the fam­ily.”

Dim­ples Dhillon wrote: “A real lo­cal gem of a gar­den cen­tre, such a sad sight that. The own­ers are very pro­fes­sional and help­ful.”

Ru Raynor added: “What a shame. The work­ers there were re­ally lovely and gave us loads of pelargo­ni­ums they were go­ing to chuck out free for our com­mu­nity project.”

Around 100 fire­fight­ers helped put out the flames, which were brought un­der con­trol af­ter five hours.

Their task was made harder be­cause of fears cylin­ders and fire­works be­ing stored there could ex­plode. The cause of the blaze is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

BLAZE: Pho­tos of the fire from @RacheCole (above) and @Eclec­tic_Healin (above left)

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