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’
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