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Investigators reveal possible cause of Camden market fire

14:01 21 May 2014

Camden Stables Market fire: Officers behind the cordon. Picture: Polly Hancock

Camden Stables Market fire: Officers behind the cordon. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

A devastating fire that swept through the Stables Market in Camden Town on Monday night has left several traders facing potential ruin - with the possible cause revealed by investigators this morning.

About 600 people were evacuated just before 8pm after thick smoke was seen billowing out of a shop in one of the railway arches near Gilgamesh restaurant.

The first of 10 fire engines arrived within minutes and firefighters battled flames as they spread through the market’s cobbled alleyways.

A plume of smoke, seen for miles around, towered above the market as it took more than 70 firefighters almost three hours to bring the blaze under control.

About five units were said to be damaged by the fire, with at least one shop “completely destroyed”.

Onlookers said it was a “miracle” nobody was hurt.

“I just saw the smoke, ran towards it to see what was happening and called security,” said Erol Sezgin, who works at a food stall.

“Smoke was towering into the sky and flames were spreading up the side of the arches. We even saw a train on the railway above driving through flames and smoke.

“It’s incredibly lucky nobody was killed.”

The fire brigade confirmed there were no fatalities or injuries. Forensic teams spent much of the following day combing over the scene with early reports suggesting the fire was “accidental”, caused by “an electrical issue”.

Reports also suggested it may have started in DripDrop London, a shoe shop which has been running from Stables Market for more than three years.

Owner Feining “Daisy” Zhou said she was “completely shocked” when she discovered her shop had been left in ruins.

“I got a call on Monday evening from my friend saying there was a fire spreading through the market,” she said. “But I had no idea it was at my shop. I was shocked.

“We don’t know how it started – all we know is our shop is completely destroyed.

“It’s incredibly upsetting. Such a huge amount of work, just up in flames. I don’t know if we’re covered by insurance.”

Valentine Chimes, owner of a neighbouring business, was also devastated to find out his shop had sustained serious damage.

“I took out a loan to open up about six months ago,” he said.

“I’ve been told my stock is totally destroyed so I’ve lost about £50,000. I don’t have insurance – I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Other traders affected also complained of having no insurance and were uncertain of their future.

As some were allowed to reopen at about midday on Tuesday, the two alleyways affected remained closed.

The scene brought back memories of a far more serious fire in the neighbouring Canal Market six years ago.

Dubbed the ‘“Great Fire of Camden”, the inferno produced 30ft flames and left hundreds trying to rebuild their livelihoods.

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The fire was apparently started by a gas explosion and left 19 people injured, four critically. Two people remain unaccounted for.

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