London

Croydon self-storage warehouse destroyed in blaze

Scene of fire Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image caption At its height, about 120 firefighters tackled the blaze in Purley Way, Croydon

Hundreds of people have lost belongings after a self-storage warehouse was destroyed in a large fire.

Dozens of firefighters are continuing to tackle the fire at the south London building, which has 1,198 rented units.

At height of the blaze on New Year's Eve, the whole of the four-storey Shurgard store in Purley Way, Croydon, was alight, with up to 120 firefighters tackling it.

Customers were told it was "highly unlikely" any items would be salvaged.

About 70 firefighters are expected to remain at the scene into the night as the fire, which has been contained, continues to burn. No one has been hurt in the blaze.

Image copyright Marianna Georgiou
Image caption Marianna Georgiou lost everything she owns, except her car and the clothes she was wearing

Marianna Georgiou, 51, had all of her belongings in the self-storage unit because she had temporarily moved in with her daughter in Mitcham after being made redundant.

Ms Georgiou, who works in retail, said: "I cannot believe it. Thirty years of my whole life have just gone in an instant."

"Someone called my daughter at 11:45 GMT last night and said, 'Doesn't your mum store her stuff there?' She [the caller] could see the flames from her bedroom window.

"I've literally got the clothes I'm wearing and my car," she added.

"I got made redundant last year from my job so I gave up my home so I put everything in storage."

"Furniture is furniture, but it's the memories and the sentimental things that you cannot replace."

Image caption Giacomo Malvermi said his pinball machine business is "over" after his stock was destroyed

Giacomo Malvermi told BBC London he heard about the fire while at a New Year's Eve party.

He had been using the warehouse to store personal belongings as well as his stock of vintage pinball machines which he restored for his business, Pinball Creative.

"It's taken me many years to accumulate these pinball machines, which are both rare and vintage," he said.

"All the stock that's gone - we're talking pinball machines from the 60s, 70s - I don't think I'll ever be able to replace them.

"That's me over, that's my business gone."

Image caption Firefighters have been at the scene since about 20:00 on Monday

In an email sent to customers, which has been seen by the BBC, the company said the fire started "despite the appropriate safety measures".

"We are devastated by this event and we sympathize with your loss. Please accept our sincerest apologies," it added.

A Shurgard spokesman said: "The entire building has been destroyed. Shurgard will undertake every effort to support all customers for which the event means a loss of their stored goods.

"As a first measure, a dedicated Shurgard team will be contacting every customer of the store within the next 48 hours to help them and support them with their claim procedures."

Graham Ellis, assistant commissioner of London Fire Brigade, said it was "challenging" to contain the fire.

"Self-storage units are generally full of items like furniture which when packed tightly provide a lot of materials to burn and so these sorts of incidents tend to create large fires that burn hard for a long time, creating a lot of smoke," he said.

"Firefighters have worked hard to ensure that while the fire is burning, it is contained and won't spread to nearby buildings."

Image copyright John Warren
Image caption Firefighters said tightly-packed possessions make fires in self-storage units difficult to control

Local residents have been warned to keep windows and doors shut, with drivers urged to avoid the area after roads were closed.

The brigade was called at 19:47 GMT on New Year's Eve.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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