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Kingsbury fire: Father tells of family’s dramatic mid-night rescue by firefighters

PUBLISHED: 17:54 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:12 24 June 2020

A blaze tore through a shop in Kingsbury with smoke entering a neighbouring property. Picture: Dilip Hirani

A blaze tore through a shop in Kingsbury with smoke entering a neighbouring property. Picture: Dilip Hirani

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A father has told of his family’s dramatic rescue by firefighters as an inferno raged in a nearby Kingsbury property.

Smoke damage at Kingsbury Printers following a blaze in neighbouring property. Picture: Dilip HiraniSmoke damage at Kingsbury Printers following a blaze in neighbouring property. Picture: Dilip Hirani

Three children and three adults were rescued by fire crews during a blaze in a nearby business property in Kingsbury Road on June 22.

Chetan Hirani’s 12-year-old niece, who was staying over at the flat attached to Kingsbury Printers, woke up in the middle of night to go to the toilet and saw flames outside the window and raised the alarm.

Six fire engines and some 40 firefighters were called just after 2.45am.

The London Fire Brigade 999 office received 22 calls from the public, a spokesperson said.

Smoke damage at Kingsbury Printers following a blaze in neighbouring property. Picture: Dilip HiraniSmoke damage at Kingsbury Printers following a blaze in neighbouring property. Picture: Dilip Hirani

Chetan, who has a son 11, and daughter, 5, said: “We’ve heard stories from residents that there were explosions. We didn’t hear those but as soon as my niece got up to go to the toilet she saw the flames, and shouted ‘fire fire’. My Mrs got woken up and she shouted ‘fire fire’, then I woke up looked out the window and could see flames coming over the fence.

“It started spreading, the flames were so intense over the fence they looked like they were going over the building and onto our flat roof.

“I didn’t know if there was fire downstairs [in the printing shop]. I didn’t want to risk going downstairs and things start exploding, little glass canisters or aerosols.

“I knew our fire exit was blocked and I knew it was going to be difficult so we closed the door to minimise the smoke coming in, and got the kids ready.”

He said he could hear the firefighters coming up the stairs. “They opened the doors to the room and there was a blanket of smoke. We couldn’t see each other,” he explained.

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“They said “‘follow my voice, out out quickly’ so I’ve got my daughter in my hands and we all got guided out by supernatural forces. Everyone came out of it without a scratch on their body.”

Chetan, his wife, their friend and three children were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation and discharged later that day.

Chetan’s family are left with nowhere to live but are staying with his father Dilip Hirani, who owns Kingsbury Printers, in his front room.

“Our car’s burnt, my company van is melted, lucky it was parked the way it was, if it had been parked the other way the petrol tank would have gone,” said Chetan.

“We came out in our bare feet. We had bits of glass in our feet and didn’t realise until we got back in the evening. Yeah, it was crazy. It’s a shame we’ve lost our home now, so we’re trying to get a bit of help.”

Dilip Hirani said: “I lost all my 40 years hard work,”

“All my printing machines have been damaged by smoke.

“In 1977 I was working this building as a printer and bought the company from my employer in 1984. It’s all damaged.”

The London Fire Brigade and the police are investigating the fire, which was under control by 4.30am.


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