A shop owner said he has been left ‘shocked and heartbroken’ after a fire ripped through his town centre family business.
Mohammad Afzal rushed back from prayers at a local mosque to find Alisha’s Fashion shop on Church Street in Accrington town centre on fire.
Three fire engines were called to tackle the dramatic blaze and police cordoned off the street where a large crowd of people had gathered.
The blaze is being treated as accidental and is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.
Mr Afzal, 37, who has been based on the street for nearly six years and previously operated in the Market Hall, said the fire has ‘destroyed everything’ and he ‘doesn’t know when he can reopen’.
He told the Observer: “I was at the mosque when the fire happened and I came back as soon as I heard. When I arrived the fire brigade and police were already there and there was lots of smoke coming out of the building.
“I was really shocked and very upset. It was heartbreaking to see and it has damaged everything. All our stock has been ruined.
“I want to reopen as soon as possible. I don’t want to wait long because that’s our only income.”
The fire happened on Friday, March 20 at around 1.30pm and caused severe smoke damage to the shop which sells clothes, fabrics, handbags and jewellery. The Wetherspoons Commercial Hotel was also forced to close for several hours after smoke got into their building.
Mr Afzal, who lives in Accrington, said: “It was a terrible thing to happen and you don’t think it ever could. I never thought about anything like this.
“We need all new fittings and stock before we can reopen.” John Taylor, of the Lancashire Fire and rescue Service, said: “Firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus extinguished the fire using hosereel jets. The people inside at the time managed to get out without injury and there were no casualties.”
No injuries were reported.
A Hyndburn fire station spokesperson said: “The smoke was that intense it smoke-logged the Commercial Hotel which had to be evacuated and is temporarily closed while cleaning up takes place.
“The fabric shop that was involved in the fire was badly affected by fire and smoke. The fire is still being investigated but is thought to have been an electrical fault.”
Lancashire Police confirmed a road closure was set up on Church Street from Blackburn Road near the Market Hall to Holme Street. Eddie Gershon, a spokesperson for Wetherspoons, said: “There was no damage from the fire but there was some smoke that got into the pub.
“The fire brigade came in and gave us some fans to clear the smoke out.”
The pub reopened later the same day.