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AS IT HAPPENED: Town centre fire under control after ripping through derelict nightclub

George Roberts

Discarded cigarette butts cause bin fire in Langley

Photo by Maidenhead Fire Station

A large fire in Maidenhead has caused the police to shut down the majority of the town centre.

Broadway, Queen Street and parts of King Street are affected, with most of the town currently off-limits behind safety cordons.

According to Thames Valley Police, the area is expected to be closed for some time while fire crews tackle the blaze.

Updates to follow.


UPDATE 7pm:

A Maidenhead firefighter has revealed how the weather conditions made the job more difficult, and how it would have been 'foolish' to not expect asbestos in the building.

Watch manager Chris Havers, of Maidenhead Fire Station, spent the day with one of the 12 fire crews fighting the fire in the old Roma nightclub in Queen Street today.

Firefighters were battling the elements as well as the fire throughout the day, with gusty winds and patches of very heavy rain buffeting against them.

Watch manager Havers said: "The rain actually made it damper and probably had quite a good effect on reducing some of the heat, but it drove the smoke down."

"That meant we were working in smoke, we had to wear masks which make it harder to see and hear."

Strong winds also increased the likelihood that the fire would spread and made it harder for the aerial appliances - cherry picker-style platforms that spray water down on the fire - to do their job.

He added that although the fire was out at about 2pm, there are still 'hot spots' within the collapsed building that water cannot reach, and that a crew will remain on standby at the scene overnight just in case.

Asbestos was also a big issue for the firefighters. Although it is not confirmed if there was any in the derelict building, watch manager Havers said it would be 'foolish' to assume otherwise.

As a precaution, all firefighters had to wear masks, and all their clothes will now be washed and treated specially to ensure there is no risk of any asbestos entering the atmosphere.

Watch manager Havers also praised the response of the public, particularly restaurant workers, who gave the firefighters free food and drinks while they fought the fire.

He added that he had 'no idea' what the cause of the blaze was, but said that an investigation is now underway.


UPDATE 4.45pm

Workers at a Maidenhead chicken restaurant were handing out free food to the firefighters while they were putting out the flames this afternoon.

When Harry Patel, owner of Gourmet Chicken in Queen Street, heard about the fire in the town centre this morning he didn't think he would be able to open his shop at all.

He still managed to get it open, but when it became clear that they were not going to get as much business as usual, he got his staff to hand out chicken wraps and chips to the firefighters over the road.

Harry said: "They absolutely loved it, they had their emergency services tent, and we didn't want to step on their toes, but I thought they might want to try something else.

"Early on it was really chaotic. By about 1pm the fire had pretty much been put out, but business was much quieter than usual and it's better to do something than just sit there twiddling your thumbs. My staff were really positive and got on board."

UPDATE 3pm: A number of businesses have shut down today due to the fire.

The offices for the mobile network Three in Grenfell Road were evacuated this afternoon due to the fire in the town centre.

Japanese restaurant Kokoro has shut its doors for the day due to the blaze. The popular lunchtime destination in High Street was turning away customers this afternoon.

Law firm Frances Lindsay & Co, based in Broadway, has also shut its Maidenhead offices for the day. The family solicitors has another office in Beaconsfield.

Cafe Green Parrot in Queen Street was closed for ‘Taco Tuesday’ because of the fire. Luckily they will be running a ‘Taco Wednesday’ promotion when they reopen tomorrow.

David Lloyd gym was closed but was set to have re-opened at 3pm.

Maidenhead Heritage Centre closed but it hopes to be open again tomorrow.


AFTERNOON UPDATE: The fire has been brought under control and firefighters are winding down at the Queen Street scene.

 


UPDATE 11.15am: Firefighters are still combating the fire on Queen Street, but thanks to their quick response the blaze did not spread to any other buildings.

The fire started just before midnight, and firefighters were called to what was described as a 'derelict building on fire'.

Speaking at the scene, Paul Jones, group manager at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue and incident commander on the ground said: "When we arrived the building was well alight and there was a danger of it spreading to other buildings along the same stretch of road.

"Because of the early intervention from the crews, we managed to stop it from spreading to any other buildings.

"The boys worked very hard."

He added that the cause of the fire was still unknown, and currently being investigated.

As well as the regular fire engines, a hazardous materials decontamination unit is also on the scene.


UPDATE: 10.55am: Reporter George Roberts has reported on the latest in Queen Street.


 UPDATE 10.10am: Maidenhead Fire Station has said it is tackling the 'very large fire' with crews from Buckinghamshire, Slough, Windsor, the rest of Berkshire and London attending alongside South Central Ambulance Service.

It has warned of 'heavy disruption' to the town centre.

UPDATE 9.55am: Courtney Buses – which serves Maidenhead – has tweeted to say that ‘all services are affected’ following the fire in Maidenhead town centre this morning, with Frascati Way still being served.

It tweeted on Tuesday morning: “All Maidenhead services are affected as centre of town is closed off after a fire broke out, police are at the scene. Services will serve Frascati Way. We will keep you updated. Sorry for inconvenience caused.”

UPDATE 9.30am: The fire service says no casualties have been reported.

UPDATE 9.25am: Council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) spoke to the Advertiser about the blaze.

“The fire broke out at around 2am this morning as we understand it," he said.

"As I understand it it’s all within the triangle landing site.

"It's all derelict.

"The fire broke out in the old Roma nightclub which is actually owned the by council, which we are about to sell to the developers.

"So it broke out in there but it’s affected some buildings around it, I understand the roof has come down on Roma.

"So this is all within the Landing site."

Praising the 'amazing' work of the emergency services, he added: "I think the main issue apart from getting the fire under control is smoke.

"There's a lot of smoke in the town, it’s been fanned by the wind, and there will be asbestos in that site and everything.

"People are putting facemasks on who are out there in the street. So I think advice to everyone is look, unless you really need to come in to town, just let’s stay away for a while until people have got this under control."

UPDATE 9.05am:

The Nicholsons Centre and Broadway car park remain closed.

UPDATE 8.51am:


UPDATE 8.42am:

A cherry picker is being used to douse the fire above.

Firefighters have ripped the doors off the former Roma nightclub.


UPDATE 8.30am:  The fire started in the former Roma Nightclub in Queen Street, according to the first fire commander who was on the scene.

According to Watch Manager Hayden Jenkins of Maidenhead Fire Station, Firefighters were called to the town centre at about 1.30am this morning.

A total of 12 fire engines, including two aerial appliances, were on the scene. Watch Manager Jenkins said he expects fire engines to remain in the town centre for the rest of the day, and roads to remain closed until at least lunchtime.

No people were harmed in the incident.

The exact cause of the fire is unknown, but an investigation will begin after the flames have been put out.

He said: "There will be appliances there for the majority of the day. At the moment the fire is of unknown origin but that will be under investigation.

"That road (Queen Street) is going to be shut until at least lunchtime, I recommend people contact their bosses to see check if they need to come into work today."


UPDATE: 8:11am The roof of an old night club, which is now owned by the council, has collapsed as a result of the fire.

Cllr Simon Dudley told an Advertiser reporter who is on the scene that the fire began at 2am, and damage was sustained to the old Roma nightclub in Queen Street.

Large parts of the town are covered in thick smoke as a result of the fire, and Cllr Dudley has warned people to stay away from the town centre if they can.

According to the Royal Borough Council, Broadway Car Park and the Nicholsons Centre are both closed.

White Bus and Courtney Bus services into the town centre have also been affected.

Closed and affected roads are currently Broadway, Queen Street, King Street, High Street and Park Street. The end of York Road is also shut off.

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