United Kingdom: Shocked worshippers have been arriving from all over London to witness the tragic blaze that is sweeping through a major Sikh temple in the East End. Many have been close to tears watching the flames sweep through the upper floor of the ornately decorated Gudwara Sikh Sangat with its classical pillared entrance.
More than 50 firefighters have been called to the sangat at Harley Grove in Bow where fire broke out at 2 pm. Ten emergency crews have been mobilised so far to tackle the blaze which has been out of control on the first floor of the temple, after the Fire Brigade received several 999 calls at 2.10pm.
Thermal imaging cameras were being used to search the premises for anyone still inside the two-storey house of worship. “It is s difficult to watch because we know what is in the temple (referring to Sri Guru Granth Sahib),” said one worshipper arriving in Harley Grove after spotting a pall of smoke several streets away.
“We know what’s inside the temple. All the holy books are being destroyed. “It is like one of my gods are burning down—we worship our holy books as steps to God.”
A women’s function was being held on the first floor where the fire broke out. The 10 women managed to get to safety in the street as the flames swept through the building.
One of the women in who was in the temple was reported to have seen a man in the building before the fire was spotted. One eye-witness contacted by the East London Advertiser, Peter Footman, guv’nor of the Coburn Arms pub close by, said: “I can see out the window one big white plume coming over the houses.”
Another publican, Sarah Jesson, assistant manager at the Morgan Arms, said: “There’s lots of smoke and huge flames coming out the top of the roof.” Police have closed off the turning off the main A11 Bow Road while fire crews tackle the blaze.