One year after a garden centre in West Drayton was destroyed by a violent fire there is renewed hope to build a permanent base and secure its future.
Around 100 firefighters wrestled to control the fire at Ansell Garden Centre for five hours as thick black smoke billowed into the sky; it prompted more than 20 calls to 999.
A hazard zone was set up 300 metres around the building over fears gas cylinders may explode due to the extreme heat produced by the fire, near Heathrow Airport.
Quick thinking firefighters were able to drag many of the gas cylinders out and covered the rest with cooling hoses to prevent further disaster.
A number of fireworks were stored at the garden centre but these too were hosed to prevent them from catching fire and exploding.
Roughly 20 people were able to leave the burning building in Holloway Lane on November 20, 2016, and luckily nobody was injured in the Sunday evening blaze.
The owners of the family run garden centre spoke of their despair after seeing “14 years of blood sweat and guts go up in smoke”. A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade told getwestlondon that the building had been 100% damaged by the fire.
Ruth Revillas, who owns Pawfect Style Dog Grooming in the grounds of the garden centre, was there at the time of the fire but was able to escape.
She told getwestlondon : “It caught alight very quickly - just a couple of minutes. Now everything is gone.
“The flames were really bad. It was really scary. It felt like we were in the middle of a war."
Despite the scale of destruction, Ansell was able to re-open just five days after the fire and have completed an entire year of trading under gazebos.
Speaking to getwestlondon, Ansell's managing director Paresh Raithatha said that planning application had been submitted and he is hoping for a decision from Hillingdon Council in December.
Rebuilding on the same site, with 96 parking spaces, Paresh hopes to restore the garden centre to its former glory but also add a coffee shop and aquatic centre.
If planning permission is granted, there will be space to park 96 cars and 2,333 square metres of space to trade from.
The application indicates he would be able to up his number of full-time employees from 18 to 25 and part-time employees from 17 to 24.
getwestlondon understands the council has not received any official objections to the application.
Marking one year since the devastating fire, Paresh said: "We have been here every day since the fire with a couple of gazebos and we want to say thank you to everyone who supported us through this year.
"Every day we get people coming in telling us they didn't know we were back up and running.
"We hope to get permission in December and move forward with building a new garden centre for the community".
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