AN UNLUCKY businessman has vowed to fight on after his takeaway was gutted by fire and forced to close for the second time in 12 months.
Last week's fire at Eastern Taste, on Church Street, Accrington, devastated the premises.
It came just months after it was closed by police investigating the murder of Accrington mum-of-six Zainab Begum.
But owner Sajid Mahmood, 35, has pledged to get his business back on its feet.
"I did it last time, so I can hopefully do it again," he said.
"I intend to get the place fixed up and work harder than ever to make it a success. I've apologised to my customers for the closure and their support has been excellent, and that in itself gives me strength."
"After the mayhem of the murder investigation, which everyone understood had nothing to do with me, I had to borrow money from family and friends to get the takeaway back to full strength."
Mr Mahmood, who has operated the business for nearly five years, said he finds his bad luck very hard to believe. In Febrary the takeaway, then called Millennium, was shut after Mr Mahmood allowed two brothers to run it while a deal to sell it to them was finalised.
The men, Mohammed Khan and Mohammed Arshad, of Crumpsall, near Manchester, were arrested and currently await trial in connection with the alleged murder of their mother-in-law Mrs Begum, of Burnley Road, Accrington.
"Everyone seems really gobsmacked by what has gone on," said Mr Mahmood. "This is definitely the worst year I can remember and my customers keep asking why me. I wish I knew."
Forensic examiners have been sifting through the rubble of the former kitchen to establish how the fire started.
Mr Mahmood, who lives in Portland Street, Accrington, with his wife and daughter, said: "We think the fire started in a chip fryer but I am waiting for confirmation about that. I don't really know how long it will be closed but I'm keen to get it open again so I can serve my regulars."
Mr Arshad, 36, denies murder and Mr Khan, 37, pleaded not guilty to the charge of assisting an offender at a hearing in June.