Yet another gurdwara fire reminds us that we have to prioritize security arrangements around all our gurdwaras … everywhere.
Members of Leicester’s Sikh community remained in shock after a fire caused damage on 24th February at around 11.15am to one floor of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Gurdwara in Rosebery Street, off East Park Road.
Sangat present in few hundereds was evacuated from Gurdwara sahib after fire broke out in a store-room.
Five fire crews and an aerial ladder platform were called to the scene.
The temple building, which also houses a day centre, pre-school group, gym and dining room, contained about 300 people when the fire broke out.
The temple’s caretaker was alerted to the fire in a top floor store-room after a fire alarm sounded.
No-one was injured in the blaze although firefighters had to prevent people going back into the temple to retrieve the Guru Granth Sahib – the holy book of Sikhs.
Surinderpal Singh Rai, education secretary at the temple, said:”I only live three or four minutes away. There were a few hundred people in the building and when I got here everyone was being evacuated quite smoothly.
“The top floor is only used for storage. When the fire alarm went off the caretaker went to have a look but couldn’t put it out and called the fire brigade who were here quickly.”
He added: “There are special prayers said for the elderly on a Tuesday between 11am and 12 noon.
“Normally people would have been in a hall above the ground floor, but thankfully they hadn’t moved upstairs before the fire broke out.
“It’s unfortunate we’ve had a fire, but it has only affected the top of the building, it could have been worse. We’ll soon have the show on the road again.”
Centre manager Surinder Kaur Barth said: “When I heard the alarm I thought it was a practice, but one of my colleagues said it was an actual fire.
“We started getting people out of the building, checking toilets and went upstairs to get people out as quickly as possible, there were possibly 300 or more here.
“The evacuation was quite orderly, but some people tried to go back in to get the Guru Granth Sahib.”
Crew manager Rob Green, one of the first on the scene from the city’s eastern fire station, said: “There was a lot of black smoke coming from the top floor and a lot of people coming out.
“It was difficult to stop a small number of people going back inside to get the holy books.”
Station manager Paul Purser, of eastern station, said: “It was a bad enough fire, but it had the potential to involve the whole of the premises.
“The crews did a good job to stop it spreading. I would appeal to people in a fire not to go back in to get belongings no matter how treasured, but to get themselves out and leave us to fight the fire.”
Parts of East Park Road, St Saviours Road, St Barnabus Road and Green Lane Road were closed during the incident.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.