Leicester

Leicester shopping centre fire was arson, police say

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Media captionDozens of firefighters tackled the fire

A fire which ripped through a shopping centre on Leicester's so-called Golden Mile is being treated as arson.

At its height more than 60 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Belgrave Commercial Centre, in Belgrave Road, which started at 22:00 GMT on Sunday.

Leicestershire Police believe the fire was "started deliberately" and have started an investigation.

The centre contains units including a grocer and clothes shop. No-one was injured in the blaze.

The fire, which also saw the Mirch Masala restaurant damaged, has now been put out and the site is being dampened down.

Image copyright Tanya Bhayani
Image caption Some roads in the city remain closed

Det Insp Mark Parish said: "A number of people were in Belgrave Road at the time of the fire, including people recording the incident on their mobile phones.

"Please check these, and if you have any information which you believe may help us - no matter how insignificant it may seem - get in touch."

He also urged anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage to contact the force.

Image copyright Tanya Bhayani
Image caption The cause of the fire is not yet known

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service told the BBC officers heard sounds of "concrete floors collapsing".

Watch manager Stephen Moore said the building was not safe to enter to "tackle the remaining pockets of fire inside", and said they were waiting for demolition services to arrive.

The demolition team arrived in the evening, with the work starting shortly before 20:00 GMT.

The fire service said a mechanical digger would demolish the building in four sections and it was a "slow process" but "good progress" was being made.

Shamira Ayoob, who lives nearby, said she had been receiving texts from worried family and friends since it started.

"We're safe, we're not in danger but just sad that it's all gone," she said.

Image caption The Mirch Masala restaurant has been damaged

The Golden Mile is renowned for its shops selling gold and saris as well as its authentic Indian restaurants.

Nisha Popat, owner of Mirch Masala, said: "It's really, really sad that the restaurant has gone through what it has, but to me I am just so glad that nobody got hurt."

She said there were four or five customers and four staff at the premises when the fire started, and they all escaped.

Image caption Nisha Popat, owner of Mirch Masala, said she is just glad everyone got out unhurt

Several businesses seem to have been damaged inside the centre, but the emergency services have not confirmed any details.

Belgrave Road has reopened to traffic, although Macdonald Road and Law Street remain closed.

Leicester's Diwali celebrations take place along this stretch of road and are thought to be one of the largest outside of India.

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