Couple lose £100,000 of designer items in Finchley Road fire

Firefighters tackling the fire in Finchley Road

Firefighters tackling the fire in Finchley Road - Credit: Archant

A couple whose home was destroyed in the Finchley Road fire have lost more than £100,000 worth of personal items in the blaze.

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Finchley Road this morning

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Finchley Road this morning - Credit: Archant

Nabeel Tariq, 25, and his husband Damian Otwinowski lost everything when a fire started in the basement underneath the PhoneRepairs4U shop early yesterday morning and slowly ripped through every floor of the five-storey building.

Firefighters continue to tackle the remnants of the blaze this afternoon.

Mr Tariq, general manager of Goldsmiths jewellers in Oxford Street, said he smelt smoke shortly after waking up at 6am yesterday.

“I started screaming,” he said. “I went to the pinhole and couldn’t see past my front door because of the smoke. I started screaming, there’s a fire! There’s a fire!

“I grabbed a bag and threw in my watch, my keys and our weddings rings. That’s all we have now. As soon as I opened the door, the smoke was filling up our flat.”

Mr Tariq said that none of the tenants’ smoke alarms sounded during the fire. “We could have died,” said Mr Tariq. “Our neighbour’s two cats died about 20 minutes after we had got out.”

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The couple banged on their neighbours doors to alert them to the blaze, before running down to the ground floor and escaping.

“We broke down,” said Mr Tariq. “We were on the floor, crying. We watched and saw our windows falling apart.”

The couple, along with the 23 others who escaped the fire, found shelter in the o2 shopping centre, with many still in their pajamas.

Mr Tariq estimates that he and his partner have lost £100,000 worth of designer good in the fire, including Burberry bags, bespoke suits and more than 60 pairs of shoes worth hundreds of pounds each.

“I know it sounds materialistic but me and partner pride ourselves on our appearance,” Mr Tariq said. “We have a lifestyle where once a month, we would treat ourselves to something from our salary.

“People have different priorities. Some save money for a car or a house, but everything we had was in that flat.”

A donation drive has been launched by local residents to help the victims of the fire recover their possessions.

If you can help, email or tweet @GoldhursTerrace.