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Finchley Road Indian restaurant fire: ‘It was as if a bomb had gone off in the kitchen’

PUBLISHED: 15:14 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:37 05 September 2017

Six fire engines and 35 firefighters and officers tackled a fire at Guglee Indian Restaurant in Finchley Road in Swiss Cottage today. Picture: JON KING

Six fire engines and 35 firefighters and officers tackled a fire at Guglee Indian Restaurant in Finchley Road in Swiss Cottage today. Picture: JON KING

Archant

Restaurant staff described hearing a loud bang and feeling their building shake when a fire broke out today.

A chef from the restaurant described hearing a loud bang and the building shaking. Picture: JON KING A chef from the restaurant described hearing a loud bang and the building shaking. Picture: JON KING

Six fire engines and 35 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled the blaze which broke out in the Guglee Indian restuarant in New College Parade, Finchley Road, at lunchtime.

Staff from the restaurant and people from the flats above were evacuated after part of the ducting in the basement and at first floor level caught alight.

Southbound lanes of the Finchley Road closed while firefighters brought the fire under control. Picture: JON KING Southbound lanes of the Finchley Road closed while firefighters brought the fire under control. Picture: JON KING

Chef Khurshid Alam, 30, was in the kitchen when he heard a bang and felt the building shake before he and three colleagues rushed outside.

“It happened so quickly. It was a very bad experience. It was as if someone had put a bomb inside the kitchen.

“It was very scary. I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” he added.

Fire crews from West Hampstead, Euston, Paddington, North Kensington and Soho stations attended with police closing all three southbound lanes and diverting traffic down Goldhurst Terrace.

A second eyewitness, who lives in a flat above the restaurant and asked not to be named, described smelling a “vile, toxic” smoke before calling the fire brigade.

Asked for his reaction, the resident said: “I wasn’t so shocked. It’s like the Lower East Side around here.”

Onlookers watched as firefighters entered the restaurant – which was about to open for lunchtime when the fire broke out – with smoke coming out of its front door. Three more could be seen on the roof.

By about 2.50pm the fire was under control with the southbound lanes reopening by about 3pm.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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