Strangers leap into action after Southsea chip shop catches fire

DRAMA Firefighters outside Uncle Buck's and inset owners Mark and Eva Ma. Pictures: Malcolm Wells: (122676)
DRAMA Firefighters outside Uncle Buck's and inset owners Mark and Eva Ma. Pictures: Malcolm Wells: (122676)
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THE owner of a fish and chip shop has told of the terrifying moment his kitchen burst into flames.

Mark Ma was working in Uncle Buck’s when a chip pan fire suddenly filled his business with thick, black smoke.

OWNERS Mark and Eva Ma. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122676-5675)

OWNERS Mark and Eva Ma. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122676-5675)

Unable to put the blaze out he was forced to escape the shop in Castle Road, Southsea, along with his wife Eva, 61, and a girl who was working there part-time.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Jignesh Patel, the owner of next-door Castle Stores who raised the alarm, and two members of the public who helped them escape, no one was seriously hurt.

Owner Mr Ma said: ‘The pan caught fire and I tried to put it out myself.

‘But the pan was too big and the sheet I was using wouldn’t cover it.

‘I burnt my hand and I realised there was too much smoke for me to do anything else.

‘It was getting in my face and I was coughing – it was really scary.

‘I’m relieved no one was hurt and there hasn’t been any damage to the structure of the building.

‘The kitchen is a mess but it should be okay.’

Four fire crews were called at around 3pm and they blocked off Castle Road in both directions.

They used foam to extinguish the fire after also finding the chip pan too big for other methods.

Ken Shearsmith, 60, of Portsmouth Road in Lee-on-the-Solent, saw the smoke and heard someone shouting inside the building.

He said: ‘There was another man there who kicked the door in and crouched down under the smoke.

‘The owner and his wife came running out and I followed this guy into the shop because we could hear someone else inside.

‘We found her and all managed to get out, which was a good thing because the smoke was thick and smelled toxic.

‘It was the other guy who really took the initiative. He was very brave.’

Owner of the next-door shop Mr Patel said when he saw the front door had been opened he went to the back of his shop and shouted to Mr and Mrs Ma to get out.

He said: ‘I saw smoke and thought: “something’s burning”. So I called out to the people outside and then I ran around the back of my house.

‘I could see people inside the fish shop so I shouted and told them to get out the front door. I’m just glad everyone is all right.’