The Sprinkler system which is regularly maintained by Churchesfire in Gunwharf Quays Chinese Restaurant, Water Margin went off during a fire, potentially saving the area from disaster.
25 Firefighters tackled the blaze which broke out at just after 9am yesterday, while workers and shoppers were evacuated from the complex for nearly two hours.
The fire was started when a staff member accidently left a wok on the heat. They attempted to extinguish the flames themselves but unfortunately the flames had already reached the roof and caused significant damage.
John Waites, chairman of Water Margin Portsmouth Ltd, which runs the restaurant, said: “We had three to four workers inside preparing the food. One of them left oil in a wok over a flame and it caught fire.
“We haven’t had access to our CCTV yet, so can’t tell for sure. The workers tried to put it out themselves, but couldn’t. Then the sprinklers came on and they called 999.
“One of the workers needed treatment at the walk-in centre for minor burns to his hand.
‘The main damage has been to the ducting and we’re finding out how much it will cost to repair.”
The restaurant is not likely to be open for the rest of the week.
The chief fire officer in charge of the incident says the blaze could have been a lot worse had a sprinkler system not kicked in.
Incident commander Glenn Bowyer said: “The fire had gone through the extraction system on to the roof. It was a difficult fire to get to so we had to tackle it from the roof. We needed to evacuate the site because the fire could have potentially spread along the roof.
“There was a potential that it could have been worse. What was good was the sprinklers, they helped control the fire and minimised damage.”
Simon Wildgust, operations manager at Spinnaker Tower, said: ‘”I saw plumes of smoke coming out and went up the tower and saw there was a fire in the roof of the Water Margin.
‘This was one of the most significant fires I have since I’ve worked here.”
A fire investigation is now under way.
This incident is a prime example of why fire safety equipment must be correctly installed and maintained on a regular basis. We are proud that in this instance no one came to any harm and the sprinkler system was effective at minimising damage to the area. If you would like further information on sprinkler system installation, service and maintenance see our sprinkler system page.
*Picture: Allan Hutchings (121780-656)