Upminster lorry crash florist thought shop on fire in same road was his

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 February 2015 | UPDATED: 14:23 25 February 2015

The aftermath of the fire at Hares Hire. Picture: LFB

The aftermath of the fire at Hares Hire. Picture: LFB


A florist whose business was destroyed when a lorry smashed into it thought disaster had struck again when he heard of a shop fire in the same road.

Paul Sewell was stuck in traffic on Monday afternoon – unaware it was caused by a blaze tearing through Hares Hire tool shop, yards from his still-closed florist in Upminster Road.

So when an onlooker told him what was going on, he feared the worst for his business, Harrington’s of Upminster Bridge.

“Someone said ‘don’t go down there, a shop’s on fire’,” he told the Recorder. “I thought oh it can’t be! Then he told me it was the bakers or the hire shop and he could see my reaction – thank Christ for that! I knew no one was hurt.

“I thought it was my store, and that would have been the end of it.”

The fire destroyed the shop and the flat above it, but the cause is still being investigated.

Owner David Hare and one customer ran from the burning building after flames “erupted” in the middle of the floor.

London Fire Brigade, who dealt with both disasters, took to Twitter to ask if Upminster Road was the “unluckiest road ever?”

“You wouldn’t want to have a shop down my road,” said Paul. “It’s like Beirut down there!”

David spoke to the Recorder from the Rainham branch of Hares Hire, which is open as usual.

“The fire just suddenly erupted,” he said. “It was very hot. The customer went out the front door but I had to run out the back.”

David was taken to hospital on the advice of ambulance staff and treated for smoke inhalation, but there were no serious injuries.

Paul is set to reopen Harrington’s in about three weeks after five months of rebuilding. And he was philosophic about the experience. In some ways it’s worked out quite well,” he said. “I needed a hip replacement anyway.”

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