A luxury mews home in west London has been gutted by fire, with more than 50 firefighters involved in bringing the blaze under control.
The £3 million grade-two listed Victorian terrace near Hyde Park was left a shell after the blaze, which is believed to have started in the basement. An 18-month programme of works on the house was weeks away from completion.
Firefighters had to rip off the roof using axes and sledgehammers to douse the flames.
Two neighbours were treated for smoke inhalation and one man was treated for leg injuries by ambulance teams at the scene, with adjacent houses evacuated.
Residents in the cobbled street told the Evening Standard that the three-bedroom property was being renovated and workmen had been on site earlier in the day. The house, in Hyde Park Gardens Mews near Lancaster Gate, is owned by Joan El Husseiny, wife of a financier from Abu Dhabi.
She raised the alarm after smelling smoke as she visited to inspect the work yesterday afternoon, and stood at the cordon today looking fraught as smoke continued to billow out.
Eric Butterfield, a retired motoring industry executive who lives next door, said: “The owner was locking up the house to go home when she smelt smoke. She doesn’t know how the fire started.”
He said the couple rented a number of properties in the area but were planning to move into the house when the work was complete.
The cause of the blaze was today under investigation as a crew from Paddington continued the clean-up. London Fire Brigade said the fire appeared to have started in the basement, which made tackling it particularly risky.
The basement, ground, and first floors were fully alight when the fire was at its most fierce. Firefighters had to be withdrawn from the mews building for safety reasons shortly before part of the floor between the first and ground levels collapsed.
Firefighter Julian Spooner, in charge of the operation, said getting inside was “extremely dangerous”, adding: “I haven’t seen a fire that has gone on for this long with the same volume of smoke for a long time.
“The house is a shell and will need total refurbishment.”