Neighbours safe after fire rips through banqueting suite (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Neighbours thank God they are safe after fire ripped through banqueting suite in Walthamstow
A man has described how he saw a fire which ripped through a banqueting suite specialising in Asian weddings bursting out from the side of his house as he and his family watched from the street.
Ten fire engines and 72 firefighters were needed to fight the blaze at The Pavilion in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, in the early hours of this morning.
Sarwar Hossain, 32, lives in a flat in Albert Road, next to The Pavilion, with his wife. He and his family were evacuated from their property at about 1.30am and stood watching the fire take hold from the street. Mr Hossain said: "We could see the fire bursting out the side of our building.
"We worried our flat was going to burn because our flat is the closest one.
"We were just praying. Thank God we are safe. "
Mr Hossain and other residents were allowed to return to their homes at 4.30am. Another eye-witness described how he saw the fire "exploding out of the windows" of the building.
The 33-year-old, who did not wish to be named but who lives on the corner of Hoe Street and Albert Road was disturbed by the commotion and saw the whole thing. He said: “It was very bad. I could see the staff running around.
"I could smell burning but I couldn’t see it."
“Then all of a sudden at the back entrance of The Pavilion, the fire started gushing out of the side windows.
“By the time the fire service got there, it was starting to explode out of the windows.
“Then there was just one fire engine and it looked really bad.”
Half of the first floor and most of the roof was alight when firefighters arrived at the scene at 1.15am.
The cause of the fire is not yet known and is currently under investigation.
Police closed Hoe Street for several hours and evacuated around 20 people from the surrounding houses due to the amount of smoke generated by the fire.
All residents have since been returned to their homes.
The 33-year-old said he warned firefighters that he believed the blaze started underneath the kitchen and that drums of oil stored there could explode.
“When I saw it at its peak it did make me worry," he said.
Station manager Clive Robinson, who was at the scene, said: “The fire has severely damaged the two-storey banqueting hall.
"Firefighters have managed to stop the fire from spreading to surrounding buildings."
It is believed The Pavilion owners spent a lot of money refurbishing the premises, inside and out, two months ago in preparation for Ramadan and Eid.