Staff flee cafe as fire breaks out in kitchen

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Staff fled a Portsmouth cafe as a chip pan went up in flames.

Firefighters from Cosham and Southsea tackled the fire at Mardin Cafe on the corner of Copnor Road and Mayfield Road in Copnor.

Traffic was brought to a standstill by police who cordoned off the area outside the cafe and the top of Mayfield Road while firefighters fought the blaze as smoke poured out from the building.

It took the crews about 20 minutes to put the fire out following the emergency call-out at about 8.50am yesterday.

Owner Mehmet Ulucan, who has been in charge of the cafe for almost three years, said: 'I was working in the kitchen and a chip pan caught fire.

'The cafe filled up with smoke really quickly. I was working in there with my cousin at the time.

'We turned everything off - the gas and the electric - and got out. It just went straight up.

'It's going to take us three or four working days to turn everything back to normal.

'It's just a shame that it's happened, especially at this time of year, but we are lucky that nothing happened to anyone, that's the main thing.'

Bill Marchant, owner of Portsmouth Trophy Centre next door to the cafe, dialled 999 after staff ran out of the shop shouting that there was an emergency.

He said: 'There was smoke billowing out of the cafe.

'It's lucky no-one was hurt. It's such a shame for this to have happened to them just before Christmas.'

Leslie Jones, 58, from Laburnum Grove, North End, said: 'I was walking back from taking my little girl to school and saw the commotion outside the cafe. I saw the firemen bringing a deep fat fryer out. It was still smoking.'

Firefighter Dave Smith, Cosham station commander, said: 'The preliminary investigation would suggest that there was an accidental oil-based fire due to a chip pan on the range.

'The firefighters did really well to stop the fire spreading any further.'