AN ELDERLY man had to be led to safety after fire ripped through a shop next to his flat early today.
Twenty-two firefighters from Sunderland Central, Farringdon, Fulwell and Washington were called to the blaze in Railway Terrace, South Hylton, shortly after 1.30am.
“We took the call at twenty to two,” said Farringdon watch manager Mark Phelan. A member of the public had raised the alarm: “Somebody saw the fire from the back of the premises.
“When we got there it was well alight, There was thick smoke coming from the front of the shop.
“There were three appliances initially. We asked for another and then for the aerial platform – the fire had broken through the roof and destroyed the roof entirely.”
Firecrews had to wake the man living in the flat next door.
“There was a dividing wall between him and the pizza shop, so he was not in too much danger but it was a precaution,” said watch manager Phelan.
“He was in his early 70s, I would have said. His daughter lives nearby and she came to take him home.”
The five crews who initially fought the blaze left the scene at 5am, but a replacement crew was there until 6.30am.
“We had to get the structural engineer out because the wall was starting to crumble,” said watch manager Phelan.
“We are not sure how it started yet – somebody will be going up this morning to investigate.”