Bosses at a blaze-hit business have reassured brides-to-be that their wedding dresses won’t be lost.
Police are investigating after The Wedding Reception, in John Street, Sunderland was hit by a fire.
Seven crews of firefighters were called to the four-storey building in the city centre after the alarm was raised at 5.30pm on Wednesday.
Tony Swalwell from Sunderland, owns the building which is split into 10 units, and his daughter-in-law Leilei Chen runs dress shop Love Lei on the first floor.
He said: “It’s still under investigation but there is extensive damage. Leilei had about 100 dresses in the shop but thankfully the fire didn’t reach that floor. There is smoke damage but we want to reassure anyone who has placed an order that everything will be fine and they’ll still get their dress.”
Mr Swalwell bought the building and dubbed it The Wedding Reception, planning to fill the 10 units with nuptial-themed businesses.
He said: “Leilei came over from Shanghai and studied for a degree in fashion design and after she met my son, John, she decided to stay here. She designs bespoke wedding dresses.
“I own a few properties so she’ll be moving into another premises while the repairs are done. I can’t put a price on the damage yet because an atrium collapsed and I need to have structural engineers out to look at it. I’m just glad that no one was hurt. Buildings can be replaced.”
One person at the scene of the fire said: “I couldn’t see any flames but there was a lot of smoke when I got here. Some firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went into the building.”
A spokesman for the fire service said that the ground floor of the building was completely destroyed by fire and the first floor was also damaged in the blaze. The basement of the property was damaged by water and the rest of the building was smoke damaged.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Police received a report at 5.53pm on Wednesday of a fire at an address in John Street. Officers attended with the fire service and enquiries are ongoing.”
- Are you planning your wedding and has the fire affected your big day? Call us on 0191 501 7326.