Blaze at Cloud 9 shisha bar, on roof of Curzonia knitwear factory, could be arson
A fire which tore through a roof-top shisha café in Leicester is being treated as suspicious.
It has been confirmed that police are investigating the blaze, which broke out at about 11.15am on Thursday, sending a huge cloud of thick, black smoke across the city.
The fire destroyed the bar and smoking area of Cloud 9 shisha bar, on the roof of the Curzonia knitwear factory, in Birstall Street, St Matthew's. Investigators carried out detailed examinations of the scene yesterday, and have pinpointed the area where they think the blaze began.
Steve Smith, of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service's investigation team, said: "Further investigations will be carried out by the police as the incident is being treated as suspicious."
The owners of Cloud 9 released a statement via Facebook yesterday.
It read: "Thank you for everyone's concern, no one was harmed. Cloud 9 has been burnt down by someone. The shisha place was closed at 2am, and the fire was started at 11.30am while the cafe was closed. No staff members where harmed."
The blaze also damaged part of the fourth floor of the factory building.
"The large bar on the fourth floor area was 100 percent destroyed – there's nothing left of it," incident commander Matt Cane, from Leicester's Central fire station, in Lancaster Place, said yesterday.
"There was a smoking area too which was completely destroyed.
"Luckily the sprinkler system activated inside the building and kept the fire under control until firefighters arrived and were able tackle it themselves."
A team of 10 fire firefighters wearing breathing apparatus heaved hundreds of metres of hose up four flights of stairs to face the flames.
Mr Cane said: "It was awful for them, because not only did they have drag all that hose to the top of the stairs, they were also getting soaked through by the sprinklers and cooked by the fire as they did it."
About 60 firefighters attended the incident.
Leicester City Council building inspectors also examined the scene after fears the roof had become unsafe.
A spokesperson said that as the cause and circumstances of the fire were subject to investigation, it would be inappropriate for the authority to comment "at this time".
Planning approval was granted in 2010 to change part of the building into a café with a smoking shelter.
In 2011, approval was given to expand the smoking area.
A city council spokesman said: "The council's planning, building control, food safety and health and safety teams were all aware of the shisha café.
"Planning permission to build the shisha café was granted under the same category of use as an ordinary café.
"Shisha cafés do not need any additional licence to operate.
"The council's health and safety and building control teams were liaising with the business with regards to the shisha café securing compliance with the relevant legislation."
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Police said: "Officers are liaising with colleagues from the fire service regarding the circumstances on how the fire was started.''