Brixton Market fire: GoFundMe raises £20k for traders after ‘everything destroyed’

“Everything has been destroyed... I have no job, everything has been burned, I have no livelihood now.”

Almost £20,000 has been raised for the Brixton Market traders who “have nothing left” after a violent blaze ripped through a warehouse destroying thousands of pounds worth of stock.

Fire broke out on Electric Lane on Saturday, July 16, and engulfed the site where stock was being stored, leaving devastated market stall owners without their livelihoods.

Family business owner Reza Sultani said: “Everything has been ruined - if I don’t start working right away, I will lose my house, I cannot pay rent, pay bills.”

And mens’ clothing salesman Sarwar Amarkhim added: “I have to start again from zero… I have been building this business for 10 years and now I have nothing to show for it.”

Devastated Brixton Market stall owners have been left without their livelihoods. Photo: Saja Shaheen

Emergency services battled the flames, with 15 fire engines and 100 firefighters at the scene near the famous south London market, until late in the evening.

Advertisement

No one is thought to have been injured, but traders, who are all former refugees, have told how the tragedy has left them “ruined”, with an estimated £20,000 of stock obliterated.

But a fundraiser set up by community campaigners Save Nour has now raised almost £20,000 to help replace the traders’ lost stock and support their businesses’ recovery.

A total of £19,555 has been raised from 733 donations from local residents and well-wishers.

Money will go directly to traders through the Brixton Market Traders’ Federation, a community interest company, to enable the traders to replace their stock.

John Gordon, federation chairman, said 12 traders were affected by the fire, many of whom are the sole breadwinners for their young families.

Advertisement

Mr Gordon, a trader of 40 years, asked: “How can you trade if you have nothing to sell?

“All these traders were originally refugees.

“Their businesses were their only means of supporting their young families, elderly parents and in some cases their extended families in their home countries.”

Imam Ali Sultan, who has been selling men’s clothing in the market since 2008, said: “I can do nothing for my wife and four children.

“They need me but I am useless as I have no business as I have no stock”.

Kitchenware trader Mohammed Ali said: “All of my stock has been destroyed.

Advertisement

“I have four children, and with the summer holidays approaching, I will be spending more money on them. Where will I get this money if I cannot work?”

While Ibrahim Hamis Gul, who sells children’s clothes and has eight children to provide for, said: “Everything has been destroyed.”

And father-of-three Goul Ahmed, who sells luggage, added: “Everything is burned. I have no job, everything has been burned, I have no livelihood now.”

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said the building’s ground floor was destroyed while parts of the first floor and the roof were damaged in the blaze.

50 people were evacuated from the site before firefighters arrived and no one was injured.

Advertisement

A spokesperson said: “The brigade was called at 8.58pm and the fire was under control by 00.30am.

“Crews from Clapham, West Norwood, Peckham, Old Kent Road, Chelsea and surrounding fire stations were at the scene.

“The cause of the fire is believed to have been accidental. However, due to the extent of the damage fire investigators have recorded the exact cause as undetermined.”

Save Nour said the traders were still paying rent to Lambeth Council for their stalls and to a private landlord for the storage unit, despite having nothing to sell and being unable to trade.

Activists are urging the council to give rent relief and help find new storage space for traders.

Advertisement

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said: “Advice sessions for Brixton Market traders have been run following a storage area fire on Saturday.

“We have been supporting traders and working to see what financial support can be put in place.

“We are also currently identifying new storage options for them.”