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Firemen battle to save businesses

PUBLISHED: 12:03 01 September 2010 | UPDATED: 12:08 01 September 2010

Flames ripped through the Othello Steakhouse, but fire crews managed to save the AC Gallery, right

Flames ripped through the Othello Steakhouse, but fire crews managed to save the AC Gallery, right

Archant

An artist has praised brave fire crews for saving her life's work as fire ripped through a neighbouring restaurant.

The inferno destroyed the upper floors of the Othello Restaurant.

Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze which began above the Othello restaurant, in Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, just before 7pm on Tuesday.

Flames tore through the upper two floors of the Greek eaterie shattering windows and destroying the roof.

Ljubinka Mmimovic, who lives above her art gallery, A&C, next door to the restaurant, alerted the emergency services when she saw thick black smoke billowing from a window.

She said: “My husband and I were coming back from the shops when I saw a huge amount of smoke coming out of the back so I called the fire brigade.

“They turned up within three minutes and were fabulous. If they hadn’t have come so quickly we would have lost our roof too.”

Nobody was hurt in the incident and the restaurant and flat upstairs were empty as the owners were elsewhere packing for their annual holiday.

The artist, who has lived and worked at the premises for 10 years, added: “I was having a nervous breakdown watching what was happening. It was very, very stressful. It’s enough to watch a good neighbour’s roof in flames but I thought I would lose everything.”

As well as the significant collection of work by herself and 30 other artists in the gallery, Mrs Mmimovic stored thirty years of her pictures in her studio basement.

She said: “I don’t even want to think of the utter devastation if my work had been destroyed. When I got up this morning I still couldn’t get my head around what happened.”

Others who live near to Othello’s said the blaze could have been started by an electrical fault on the first floor as the terraced building was known to have old and hazardous wiring.

Although the roof was missing and first floor windows were smashed, tables downstairs in the restaurant were still set ready for their next dinner service.

Eight Crews from Greenwich, East Greenwich, Lee Green, Deptford and Old Kent Road attended the scene and they called police who closed the road for about two hours. Firefighters used a cherry picker lift and clambered over a flat roof to stop flames from spreading.

Police are not treating the fire as suspicious and the last fire engine left the scene at about 11pm.

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