Father evacuated from Wimbledon fire ‘complained about extractor’ believed to have caused restaurant blaze

A father evacuated from his home, after the restaurant below caught fire, claimed that he voiced concerns to Merton Council about the extractor fan that could be the culprit behind yesterday’s blaze.

Dashnor Ismaili, who lives above the Aya Lebanese Cuisine restaurant on Merton Road with his wife and child, was in their flat when the restaurant caught fire early on Monday afternoon.

Mr Ismaili, who moved to the UK 19 years ago from his native Albania, also said that council officials had been to inspect the extractor fan at least three times.

“I was in bed with my wife and two-year-old child when we noticed smoke so we went outside,” the 40-year-old said.

“I came down here and saw the fire from the extractor.

“I have been complaining for about a year about the extractor, the smells and the fumes coming up.

“The council has been at least three times to have a look.”

Mr Ismaili, who was wearing a dressing gown with no footwear or socks after the hasty evacuation, said that neighbours had provided clothing for his wife and young child.

The fire needed 21 firefighters to safely extinguish it, and it is believed that Mr Ismaili’s home has been gutted.

“The fireman said the extractor wasn’t protected very well,” he added.

“The extractor is just above our bedroom, and we were complaining about the noise, the vibrations, the smells.

“There was a lot of smoke coming up into the flat.”

Crews from New Malden, Purley, Wimbledon and Mitcham fire stations attended the incident, and it took almost two hours for the fire to be taken under control.

A London Fire Brigade monitoring officer who was at the scene yesterday, said: “The fire investigation guys have had a look at it now so without speaking out of turn it appears that the ducting travels through the building, there’s a possibility that may have started it or contributed to it [the fire].

“We’re not really sure but that would be the first impression, that it was the ducting.

“It gets ever so hot, there may be an issue with that, but the fire investigation guys say that might look like the obvious thing.”

The officer said that although it was hard to tell how much structural damage had been caused by the blaze, the most damaged areas were around the building’s ducts.

The flats above the restaurant are currently uninhabitable and will need significant repair work to replace smoke-damaged property.

Merton Council said they had received no complaints from Mr Ismaili.

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