This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.
The owner of a Derby taxi firm targeted in a suspected arson attack says he is “heartbroken”.
The city centre office of PJ Cars in Curzon Street was gutted by fire on Sunday morning.
The major blaze brought 11 fire engines from four different counties to the area. Thick plumes of smoke were seen rising from the three-storey building and crews used two aerial platforms to tackle the flames.
Owner Muddasser Ahmed says he is “devastated” by the damage but has promised to keep serving customers from his head office in Pear Tree.
He said: “It’s very upsetting to think that someone would set fire to our business. I don’t understand why, there’s no reasonable explanation, it’s just shocking.
“I received a call in the morning to say there’s been a fire at a building on Curzon Street and I rushed down here.
“At first I thought it was Marley’z next door but then I walked around the back and realised it was our office. My heart stopped, I couldn’t move or speak - I was in a complete shock."
(Image: Robbie Gordon)
He praised the firefighters for getting the blaze under control quickly, but says the building is “completely destroyed”.
He believes the fire started in a rear storeroom where old radio equipment and files were stored.
He said the Curzon Street office, which was only opened in 2014, was a “gold mine”.
He added: “I’ve only been allowed inside the building once and it’s ruined. I pointed out to police that a vending machine had been smashed and an unused safe had been moved.
“There was nothing inside here of any value but we know it was a deliberate attack.
“This location is an absolutely brilliant due to Derby’s nightlife. We sometimes have up to 1,000 customers a week from this office and we think it’s a prime spot.
“Now that we haven’t got an office here it’s going to turn into a free-for-all with other taxi firms trying to get in on the action over the busy Christmas period.
“But I want our customers to know that if you ring us we can still pick you up from Curzon Street. We are still here and we still offer a great service.”
(Image: Robbie Gordon)
He said the landlord of the building is in touch with his insurers to see if the site can be repaired.
Nobody was injured in the incident but Derbyshire police believe the fire was arson.
A force spokesman said: “Early investigations suggest the fire may have been started deliberately and we are investigating.
“Witnesses or anyone with information should call us on 101 quoting reference 17000526471.”
Jamaican restaurant Marley’z has been closed since Sunday due to smoke damage – but owner Kenrick Jones says he hopes to reopen tonight.
He said: “When I got here on Sunday I thought the fire was in my place. I walked in and there was a thick sea of smoke at the back of the restaurant.
“Luckily I didn’t suffer any fire damage but it’s taken almost a week to get rid of the smell of smoke.”