Portsmouth cafe hit by fire

Police outside student accommodation in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth on Friday Picture Ben Fishwick

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Customers fled from a Portsmouth cafe today as it was engulfed in flames.

The blaze erupted at the Mardin Cafe on the corner of Copnor Road and Mayfield Road in Copnor shortly before 9am.

It is believed the fire started in a chip pan in the cafe's kitchen.

Owner Mehnet Ulucan, who has been in charge of the cafe for the past three years, said: 'I was working in the kitchen and the 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 a shame that it's happened at this time of year.'

Eyewitness Leonard Rich said: 'I was driving past and saw smoke billowing out of the chimney at the back - next thing I knew the whole shop was on fire.

'It was quite dramatic, and of course everyone was standing outside with their bacon sandwiches still in the cafe.'

Firefighters from Southsea and Cosham fought the blaze.