MORE than 50 customers and 12 staff had to be evacuated from a popular Indian restaurant in Burnley after the neon sign on the front of the building went up in flames.
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The owner of Usha, in Rossendale Road, described his shock after seeing the blaze at his business from his bedroom window.
Ibby Ali said he had the £13,000 sign fitted when he took over the building 12 years ago and has it safety checked every year, but the strong wind and rain on Sunday night got into a new fuse box, short-circuited it and started the blaze.
He said: “Nobody noticed it until the front of house manager walked by the conservatory and saw the flickering from the flames. He was really shocked.
“At the same time, my youngest daughter called to me from my bedroom window and said ‘Daddy, your restaurant’s on fire,’ after she saw it across the field.
“It was a real panic. I thought I was watching my dreams go up in smoke. I ran down there and we wanted to try and put it out but it was so high up there was no way we could reach.
“Only the ‘A’ of the ‘Usha’ is there now. I was sad to see it go because of sentimental reasons. It was the restaurant’s first sign. Fortunately there was no damage to the building, though we still need to check a bit of the roof that’s over it.
“The fire service only took eight minutes to get here, so I’d like to say a big thanks to them. There’s no way we’d be serving today if it wasn’t for them.
”Everybody was evacuated at around 9.45pm and it took until about 10.30pm until the fire was out, and we usually close at 11pm.
“The insurance should cover us and we’ll buy a new sign.
“I’m really glad nobody was hurt and the damage to the building wasn’t worse.”
Acting crew manager Simon Wright, from Burnley Fire Station, said: “The side of the restaurant was well alight.
“Crews isolated the electric before using a hose reel jet and triple extension ladder to gain access and extinguish the fire.
“Thermal image cameras were used to check the area for hot spots before crews left the scene. Both appliances were there for 30 minutes.”