Just after midday on 26th September a fire was discovered at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, South London. The mosque is said to be the largest in Western Europe. 70 London Fire Brigade firefighters and 10 appliances from fire stations across South London rapidly responded to the fire.
Police and ambulance services also attended the scene and the A24 London Road was partially closed, causing traffic tailbacks. British Transport Police were at Morden South overground station, next to the mosque, where trains ran at reduced speed and passed through the station without stopping.
After hard work by London Fire Brigade crews in challenging conditions, the fire was brought under control by mid-evening but not before 50% of the ground floor of the mosque had been damaged by fire and smoke. Most of the damage occurred at the front of the building affecting offices, administration sectors and the roof above, although the prayer area of the mosque was unaffected. One man was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
Following the incident, two boys aged 14 and 16 were arrested on suspicion of arson, and both remain in custody at a South London police station whilst further enquires proceed.
Siobhain McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, spoke of her shock at news of the fire. “The mosque does a huge amount for the local community,” she said. “They are tireless raisers of funds for charity – their own charities’ funds and charities in the community.”
The vast Baitul Futuh mosque complex, which covers 21,000 sq. metres, was completed in 2003 at a cost of about £5.5m. It is said to be able to accommodate 10,000 worshippers.
The cause of the fire is still under forensic investigation by Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade officers.
Image courtesy of London Fire Brigade.