An eye witness has described the fire which gutted a West Drayton garden centre as being like a war zone.
Ansell Garden Centre was destroyed when fire ripped through it on Sunday (November 20) afternoon.
Pawfect Style Dog Grooming, which is based in the grounds of the Holloway Lane garden centre, narrowly avoided damage.
The salon had been shut for the day but owner Ruth Revillas was with a member of staff and their pet dogs decorating when they were alerted to the dangers.
She told getwestlondon : “We were there when it started. Luckily our building is 20 feet away from the garden centre’s front door, so the fire just missed us.
“Someone came running in to us and we had to get out because there was a fire. So we grabbed our dogs and left.”
She said flames got a grip within a few minutes.
She added: “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.
“It was so loud and the heat was ridiculous, we could feel the fire over 100 yards away. We were panicking.”
Fire crews were called at 4.33pm and say around 20 people had safely left the building before their arrival.
Ms Revillas did not think there were customers inside the building at the time.
Following the fire the owners of the garden centre had spoken of their devastation caused by the blaze.
They wrote on Twitter: “Heart broken seeing 14 years of blood, sweat and guts go up in smoke. Thank you for all the messages”.
In another message, the centre wrote: “Thanks for all your kind word and messages across social media. Just so surreal, know it’s material but word can’t explain the loss.”
Ms Revillas, who promised to get in touch with her customers in due course, added: “The owners are obviously in pieces, they’re devastated.
"But they’re keeping positive ad I think they will try their best to bring it back to the community.”
On Facebook, Ansell customers have been expressing their sadness at the fire. Among those leaving comments were Terri Bushnell, who wrote: “My lovely garden centre. So sad for the family.”
Dimples Dhillon saiid: “A real local gem of a garden centre, such a sad sight that. The owners are very professional and helpful."
Ru Raynor added: “What a shame, the workers there were really lovely and gave us loads of pelargoniums they were going to chuck out, free for our community project.”
Around 100 firefighters helped put out the flames, which were brought under control after five hours, near 9.30pm. Their task was made harder because of fears cylinders and fireworks being stored there could explode.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
Garden centre fire: Thick black smoke seen from miles away
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