April started in dramatic style with 3 major fires in Southern England in less than 24 hours. The new month was less than 9 hours old when fire broke out at the Carluccio’s Restaurant in Bicester Village, leading to an evacuation of the whole site; a few hours later,a major incident was declared in Central London when smoke was seen coming from an underground fire in Holborn; and the following night a serious fire broke out on an industrial estate a few miles away in Park Royal. Whilst not for a moment suggesting these represent some kind of trend, clusters of rare events do just crop up like this; the three events in different environments (retail, offices and industrial) shine a spotlight on the extensive impacts of fire on neighbouring businesses.
Whilst the fire at Bicester Village was quickly under control, the whole site had to be evacuated; shops were closed for at least four hours; and, presumably, business was pretty slow when they did reopen. Industry experts estimates the loss of business in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. As well as Carluccio’s itself, four other stores remained closed the following day, sustaining even greater losses. The Holborn fire was a much bigger affair, with 5000 people evacuated, roads closed and loss of power to 3000 customers at the peak: it took fire crews over 36 hours to put the blaze out. With the fire out, 400 customers (presumably mostly businesses) were still waiting for power to be restored. Finally, in the early hours of 2 April, fire broke out in a warehouse on an industrial estate on Western Road, Park Royal. Fire crews contained the blaze but dense smoke spread into nearby residential areas and the closure of roads caused disruption during the morning rush-hour.
Fortunately nobody was killed in any of these incidents; but together they illustrate the many, potentially serious, effects of a fire on neighbouring businesses, and the importance of addressing these issues in incident management plans.