Heart­break at gar­den cen­tre blaze

fam­ily-run busi­ness de­stroyed by fire ‘four­teen years of blood and guts goes up in smoke’ Eye­wit­nesses de­scribe scene as a ‘war zone’

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Goolis­tan Cooper goolis­tan.cooper@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE own­ers of the West Dray­ton gar­den cen­tre de­stroyed by fire at the week­end have spo­ken of their de­spair af­ter see­ing ‘14 years of blood, sweat and guts go up in smoke’.

Ansell Gar­den Cen­tre was badly dam­aged by the blaze which broke out on Sun­day at around 4.30pm.

Around 20 peo­ple were able to leave the build­ing un­harmed be­fore 100 fire­fight­ers spent five hours bring­ing the flames un­der con­trol.

Lon­don Fire Bri­gade (LFB) said the whole of the build­ing was gut­ted by the flames.

In a se­ries of tweets, Ansell Gar­den Cen­tre ex­pressed its shock and dis­be­lief fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent.

One read: “Heart­bro­ken see­ing 14 years of blood, sweat and guts go up in smoke. Thank you for all the mes­sages”

An­other said: “Thanks for all your kind word and mes­sages across so­cial me­dia. Just so sur­real, know it’s ma­te­rial but word can’t ex­plain the loss.”

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, Ansell closes to cus­tomers on Sun­days at 4.30pm.

It is not known if cus­tomers were among those who fled the build­ing af­ter the start of the fire.

In a re­ply to a tweet, the gar­den cen­tre added: “Thanks God we are all okay and got out...thanks to the emer­gency ser­vices too.”

A Lon­don Fire Bri­gade spokesman told the Gazette: “It has been 100 per cent dam­aged by fire.

“The whole of the build­ing was ba­si­cally gut­ted by fire.”

Crews from Heathrow, Hayes, Hilling­don, Feltham and Southall all tack­led the fire and a 300 me­tre ‘haz­ard­zone’ cor­don was set up around the cen­tre amid fears gas cylin­ders in the prop­erty would ex­plode.

There were fears that fire­works stored at the premises would also go off in the blaze.

Sta­tion man­ager San­jay Prasad, who was at the scene, said: “Fire­fight­ers worked very hard in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions to bring this in­ci­dent un­der con­trol.

“A num­ber of cylin­ders were in the gar­den cen­tre, which is why a 300-me­tre haz­ard zone was set up as cylin­ders can ex­plode when ex­posed to heat.

“Quick think­ing fire­fight­ers were able to drag the ma­jor­ity of the cylin­ders away from the fire which pre­vented a pos­si­ble ex­plo­sion.

“Then fire­fight­ers used cov­er­ing jets to cool the re­main­ing cylin­ders down.

“Fire­works were also be­ing stored at the gar­den cen­tre, but fire­fight­ers hosed the stor­age area down to en­sure they did not catch alight.”

Fears the thick smoke could af­fect ar­rivals and depar­tures from nearby Heathrow were al­layed.

An air­port spokesman said flights had not been af­fected by the smoke, which was vis­i­ble from sev­eral miles away.

Fire­fight­ers used two aerial lad­der plat­forms to help put out the flames, which were un­der con­trol at around 9.30pm.

Its cause is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

IN­FERNO: The blaze at Ansell Gar­den Cen­tre

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