The independent London newspaper

Wedding party disrupted by fire at Smoking Goat restaurant

No major damage after blaze which smelt like 'a barbecue that went wrong'

26 May, 2017 — By Sabrina Dougall

The Smoking Gun

A WEDDING party was interrupted at a “Tin Pan Alley” restaurant when a grill burst into flames.

Staff at the Smoking Goat Thai restaurant in Denmark Street, St Giles, said one of their own waiters and his new wife were celebrating their nuptials when the blaze began on Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters spent an hour dealing with the smoke. Earlier, traders from other shops in the street, near Charing Cross Road – famous for its music stores – had joined the effort to put out the fire. The London Fire Brigade said the cause was accidental, while staff said fat had dripped on the grill while lamb and pork was being cooked for guests at the private event.

Chris Müller-Bennett, manager of No.Tom Guitars, next door to the Smoking Goat, said he had helped the chef tackle the flames. “I went up the stairs [inside the restaurant] to put out the fire from the roof. People were handing both him and me fire extinguishers through the window. He used six fire extinguishers and I went through two,” he added. “The whole street came together to help put it out.”

The restaurant has proved a hit with reviewers since being opened by Brian Hannon, a former director of food at Selfridges, three years ago and is known as one of the area’s most popular places to eat. Waitress Maeve Bartlett, 22, who was at the nearby Fernandez & Wells restaurant, said she had seen “thick smoke” rolling around from behind the parade of shops.

“People were sitting out here [beside St Giles-in-the-Fields church] having lunch and asking, ‘What’s that smell?’ The smoke was really noticeable behind that street and we didn’t know where the fire was coming from. It was like someone was having a barbecue and the barbecue went wrong.”

Nine people called the fire brigade. Nobody was injured, and the party resumed later that afternoon. “We were open again for business for our Offal Monday,” Mr Hannon said.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “Businesses should make sure their extraction system is kept clean as a build-up of fat and grease within the filters can lead to a fire.” Fire risk assessments should be regularly carried out by business owners and it is “down to them” how often these take place, he added.

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