A major fire which broke out early Thursday morning gutted a restaurant and an office block in Shoreditch in East London.
The blaze broke out at about 4 am at the Sosho restaurant on Tabernacle Street, on the border between Shoreditch and the City of London and fire engines were still at the scene on Friday.
The flames quickly spread up the four-storey office building, engulfing half of the roof.
London Fire Brigade said 20 fire engines, four aerial appliances and around 100 firefighters attended the scene. There have been no casualties and it is not thought anyone was trapped in the building.
Ron Dobson, London fire commissioner said the cause of the fire is under investigation. Mr Dobson added:
“This was a complicated fire spreading rapidly through different premises and onto a bitumen covered roof, creating huge plumes of smoke across the city and presenting very difficult firefighting conditions for the crews attending.”
Smoke from the fire filled surrounding streets and could be seen as far as Liverpool Street station and across Hackney. The strong smell of smoke still lingers around the area.
Fire crews had the fire under control by 11.20 am on Thursday but roads were still closed on Friday morning.
A local newsagent, whose shop is opposite where the fire started said: “We got here at around half six and there were a lot of police and fire fighters – everyone was trying to put the fire out. We didn’t see any flames. It was only thick smoke – very thick smoke.”
Tabernacle Street has a number of popular bars and restaurants. The Sosho bar and restaurant and the East Room private members’ club have been forced to close ‘for the foreseeable future’.
Speaking to BigHospitality website, Jonathan Downey owner of Sosho said he was not sure when, or even if the businesses would be re-opened following the fire.
“I’ve been down there and it’s been completely gutted,” he said. “The fire’s caused millions of pounds of damage, both to the building and to business. The bar’s just been kitted out with some great antique furniture which is all irreplaceable and about £50,000 worth of artwork has been destroyed.”
Downey said trade had been strong before the blaze. “Both places are open seven days a week and have 24 hour licences. They’ve both been really busy, even in the current economic climate, so this is going to cost us massively,” he said.
Mike Blomfield, a spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade said: “This is one of the largest fires we have, there would be only about three of four like this a year.
“One positive is that in central London the buildings are quite well built so there is good firewall separation between them.”
A joint investigation between the fire brigade and the police is now under way.
Additional reporting by Artemis Ignatidou