London

Morden mosque fire: 70 firefighters tackle blaze

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Media captionThe BBC's James Longman says more than 50% of the ground floor was affected, as well as parts of the first floor and roof

A large fire broke out at a mosque complex in south London.

The blaze at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, which describes itself as the largest mosque in western Europe, was tackled by 70 firefighters.

The London Fire Brigade said the fire was contained to an administration building and the mosque itself was unaffected. It said the blaze was under control by about 17:30 BST.

A man was taken to hospital suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.

Image copyright Julian Roman
Image caption The mosque has a community centre attached to it
Image copyright PA
Image caption The London Fire Brigade was called at just after noon to the mosque fire
Image copyright PA
Image caption About 70 firefighters tackled the blaze

The brigade was called at just after 12:00 BST to the mosque, which also has a community centre attached.

Only a handful of worshippers were inside the mosque when the blaze started and they were evacuated from the site.

About 50% of the building's ground floor was damaged as well as part of the first floor and a section of the roof.

Fire crews were at the site into the evening, damping down and dealing with the aftermath of the blaze.

'Religious significance'

Earlier, station manager Philip Morton said: "This is a large fire and our crews are working hard to minimise fire spread to other parts of the mosque.

"We are working closely with the local community to ensure our damage control operations take full regard of the religious significance of the building's contents."

Julian Roman, from Morden, told the BBC: "I saw it start from my window. There was a tiny bit of smoke, some alarms.

"Now there are firefighters, ambulances, hundreds of people."

Image copyright PA
Image caption There is space for at least 10,500 people to pray, according to the mosque's website

Major landmark

The 5.2 acre (2.1 hectare) mosque serves the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and there is space for at least 10,500 worshippers, according to its website.

Rafiq Hayat, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, said: "By the Grace of God the mosque is safe and unaffected and there were no injuries and no loss of life.

"The fire was contained to the hall at the front of the building and some adjacent offices.

"We are extremely grateful for the support of the local community and leaders."

Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis described the mosque as a "beautiful building" and a "major landmark" in the area.

He said the mosque is manned by security staff and suggested the fire could have been caused by cooking preparations rather than an arson attack.

Lord Ahmad, a high-profile member of Ahmadiyya community and junior government minister, tweeted: "This is a beautiful mosque complex which has transcended barriers and been a beacon of peace - thoughts & prayers."

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