VIDEO: Shopkeepers survey the damage after huge Ilford Lane fire engulfs businesses

A fire occured on Ilford Lane at 2am last night. It started in Chesters chicken shop and spread to D

A fire occured on Ilford Lane at 2am last night. It started in Chesters chicken shop and spread to Durga sweet shop. Both shops are severly damaged and have been put out of buisness while repairs take place, loosing them money. Niraj Sharma with his brothers Saryeev Patel and Nitin Sharma, owners of the Durga sweet shop - Credit: Archant

Three shopkeepers who watched their businesses be completely gutted by fire in the early hours of this morning said they have been left heartbroken.

More than fifty firefighters were called out at 12.50am to tackle the fire which engulfed Chesters chicken shop, Durga Sweets and Future Training 4 Jobs in Ilford Lane, Ilford.

The owners of the sweet shop have built up their business for the last 30 years and said the fire had destroyed a piece of history.

Nitin Sharma, 47, who runs the business with his family, was woken up in the middle of the night and went straight to his shop where he watched crews work to save as much as possible.

He said: “There was so much smoke the firefighters could not see where the fire was actually coming from.

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“They had just finished putting it out and then it started up again.

“We are heartbroken.”

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The fire started in the basement of Chesters chicken shop and spread to the training centre above it and to the adjacent bakery, Durga Sweets.

Ten people were evacuated from flats above the shops before the fire crews arrived and no injuries were reported.

Mr Patel and his family had made five tonnes of sweets in preparation for Raksha Bandhan a Hindu festival celebrating siblings. It is the second busiest day of the year for the shop and the family had spent the whole weekend working flat out to ensure the thousands of sweets were ready.

Mr Patel said: “There’s nothing we can retail at all so we will just have to see what we can do and take stock of what happened. We can’t do anything else.”

His brother-in-law Sanjeev Patel, 35, runs the Future Training 4 Jobs centre above the chicken shop and said they had lost thousands of certificates and documents in the blaze.

He said: “My niece called me at about 2am and said the shop was on fire. I thought she was joking at first.

“It’s just heartbreaking. I think it started in the basement of Chesters and then travelled up the wall cavity.”

The roof of the chicken shop was completely destroyed and the fire ripped through the training centre above.

Mr Sharma said: “I cannot even describe what it’s like inside. The fire crews did a brilliant job. They saved as much as they could.

“The sweet shop has been there for 30 years. It’s like a piece of history going away.”

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