A BUSINESS owner has been left devastated after a blaze badly damaged his fish and chip shop this morning (Thursday, December 27).

Shop staff and residents had to be evacuated from adjoining buildings when Flippers went up in flames in a Middlesbrough shopping centre.

Several crews from Cleveland Fire Brigade attended the scene at Viewley Hill Shopping Centre, Hemlington, just after 10.30am to bring the blaze under control.

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The fish and chip shop has been completely gutted as a result of the fire and neighbouring shops and flats have all been heavily smoke-logged.

Watch manager Ian Eccles praised the quick thinking of the staff who ensured it was as safe as possible for firefighters to enter the building.

He said: “The staff did exactly the right thing, as soon as they realised there was a problem they shut off the gas and electric and left the building as soon as possible.

“When we arrived on the scene there was smoke and flames coming out of the front and rear of the building, you couldn’t see the car park because the smoke was so thick.

“The design of the shops also played its part in preventing the fire spreading. All the safety features worked and this ensured that there was limited damage to adjoining businesses.”

The owner of the business was at the scene of the fire but was too distressed to speak to The Northern Echo.

Firefighters spent almost an hour bringing the fire under control and one crew was still on site in the afternoon dampening down the burnt out shop.

One eye witness, Joseph Meadows said: “You could barely see the shops for all of the smoke that was coming out of the fish shop, it was blowing right through the shopping centre. The fire brigade were on site really quickly and they did a great job.”

Businesses were asked to close up for half an hour while firefighters tackled the blaze. Coral the bookmakers, which is next door to the fish and chip shop, soon re-opened its doors, however, Booze Box on the other side of the takeaway remained closed.