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UPDATE: Police have told MM that the fire has now been put out – interview to follow shortly.
Firefighters are battling a blaze at Manchester burger bar Almost Famous in the city centre’s bustling Northern Quarter.
Originally four firefighters were in the building tackling the blaze – which started in the second floor kitchen – with two hose reels. Yet this has now extended to more fire crews being scrambled and they are using an aerial platform to tackle the fire.
They received a call at 13:27pm today alerting them that a fire had broken out, and smoke can be seen billowing from the windows.
The roof eventually caught fire and has now completely collapsed due to severe fire damage.
Numerous bars and businesses from High Street, Tib Street, Thomas Street and Edge Street have been evacuated due to the extent of the fire.
A police cordon remains in place to keep people at a safe distance.
Marie Carter, owner of Almost Famous, told MM: “It was just a kitchen fire, but everyone has been evacuated and thank god no one is hurt.
“It happened at lunchtime, about 45mins to an hour ago, and the fire crews were here in minutes.
“I’d just like to say how grateful I am to my staff they’ve been brilliant.”
Marc Jeffreys said: “I was sat in the restaurant as the alarm sounded. The kitchen was in flames.”
There are believed to be no injuries.
Update: Interview with Station Manager Damian O’Rourke
He said: “A fire broke out at 1:30pm in the kitchen on the top floor.
“More than 50 firefighters were called to the scene to get it under control and to stop it spreading.
“We’ve been working with the police, council, and bus services to stop disruption to the city centre.
“There’s extensive damage to the top floor and roof, and we are still extinguishing the fire.
“It’s still under investigation – we’ll be working for the next few hours to determine a cause because there’s so much damage.
“No one was harmed – they had a working fire alarm installed which certainly helped.”
DESTROYED: Fire has completely gutted the upstairs and roof of Almost Famous (picture courtesy of Chazlet, with thanks.)
UPDATE: Flames begin to engulf the roof (picture courtesy of Chazlet)
Adam Machin, manager of The Northern Quarter Restaurant (TNQ Restaurant) which is situated only across the street to Almost Famous, remained defiant despite the smoke.
“We’re still open, we’re not too concerned,” he said. “We have a private function going on at the moment, but it’s not affected that too much.”
Almost Famous tweeted: “Almost Famous is on fire. Everyone is safe. No one was hurt. Only our hearts broken. We’ll be back soon. Sorry x.”
Firefighters can be seen pushing cars out of the way so as to try and limit the damage and to allow them access to tackle the fire.
Station Manager Damian O’Rourke said: “If motorists could avoid the area that would be really helpful, particularly Shudehill, High Street and Thomas Street.
“There is a lot of fire activity going on with five crews in attendance so the area is very busy.
“The fire involves a 2nd floor kitchen and it has got into the roof space, so we have got an aerial appliance at the scene along with the fire engines. They are trying to bring it under control and are working hard to stop it from spreading.
“Anybody in the area is asked to keep their doors and windows closed as a precaution, as there is a lot of smoke.”
Daniel Lovell works at Market Restaurant just across the road. He told MM: “We got evacuated when the fire started and we’ve been waiting in the rain ever since.
“I’ve no idea when we’ll be able to go back we’ll just have to wait here and see.”
NQ residents are being asked to keep their doors and windows closed due to the amount of smoke in the area.
Emily Rowes, a Northern Quarter resident who lives round the corner from the restaurant, said: “I just want to get to my flat but they won’t let me through. I’m completely blocked off.”
More to follow.
WATCHING IN AWE: Passerby stop and watch as the restaurant’s roof catches alight (pic courtesy of KTweetUK, with thanks)
AT WORK: Firefighters discuss best way to access the building to tackle the fire
IN ACTION: Firefighters can be seen pushing cars out of the way to gain access (pic courtesy of ManchesterFire, with thanks)
TACKLING FLAMES: Firefighter uses hose to battle blaze as it erupts from roof
UPDATE: Roof appears to be catching fire as firefighters battle blaze (picture courtesy of Chazlet)
BATTLE: Firefighters use an aerial platform to tackle the blaze
BLAZE: Northern Quarter residents and visitors before police cordon set up (pic courtesy of Stehart)
SAFETY CORDON: Firefighters work to put out fire in burger bar’s kitchen (pic courtesy of Walrus MCR)
Video footage of the incident (courtesy of Mohammed Javed via YouTube)
SMOKE: Nearby resident captures image as more smoke emerges from second floor (pic courtesy of Andy Kinsey)
Main image courtesy of Walrus MCR, with thanks.