Businesses could only stand and watch their livelihoods go up in flames as a major fire broke out in Lancaster.
Smoke could be seen for miles after a blaze engulfed the city centre on Monday.
Eight fire engines, an aerial ladder platform and crews from Morecambe and Command Support Unit from Blackburn rushed to Mary Street at around 12.40pm as flames shot up into the air.
Within minutes the fire took hold of the building opposite the Wilko store – destroying the Nicholas Evans Print Workshop and other businesses nearby.
No-one was injured but there was significant fire damage to the roof and first floor of the terraced block of shops.
Police arrived at the scene at around 1pm on Monday (April 3) to assist Lancashire Fire and Rescue and close off Mary Street and Great John Street to the public.
A passerby said: “I am amazed by the slates, they are just buckling, I thought they would be secure.
“It is ironic because I was going to go into Amy’s cafe today. I thought I will go there before my doctor’s appointment.
“I can’t believe the flames, it must be very fierce, we just don’t want an explosion.”
Caron Morris was on a day off when her business, Luma Holistic Therapies on Moor Street, (next door to the print workshop) very nearly burnt to the ground. “That was my business, it is utterly devastating,” said the 44-year-old.
“I don’t work on a Monday, the police rang me asking me to come down to let firefighters into the building but I couldn’t get near on time and the firefighters forced entry and rescued some of my items.”
Caron lost everything in the fire and was only able to retrieve clients records and insurance documents in the hope that she can temporarily relocate her massage and therapy business elsewhere.
The fire, which is believed to have started in a printer at the Nicholas Evans workshop, spread to the roof of Luma and very nearly took hold of the scout shop nearby.
Caron, who has owned Luma for four years, wants to spread the word to her customers that she is temporarily relocating.
“It is still early days, I don’t know where yet, my priority is getting trade in as soon as I can, it may be temporary whilst I look for somewhere to rent.
“I just don’t know what the future holds.”
Caron wants to thank her customers for the overwhelming support since the fire.
848 848 Taxis (located underneath the Nicholas Evans workshop), the Christian Bookshop, Amy’s Cafe have all been affected by the fire and have suffered water damage.
The taxi rank want to let their customers know that 848 848 taxis are still running as normal and have moved their dispatch system to their Morecambe office. Firefighters and police were still at Mary Street on Tuesday morning (April 4).
Fire crews were assisting building surveyors as they conducted their investigations on Mary Street.
Mary Street in Lancaster and the ginnel which runs alongside the Halfiax store on Penny Street were cordoned off to the public.
A fire investigation is underway but an initial report suggests the fire was electrical in origin and involved a machine.