BOLTON Street Angels are thanking their lucky stars after they were able to return to their new town centre home in time for Christmas.
Members of the voluntary group had feared they would be left without a home over the busy festive period after a fire ripped through the sign of the nightclub next door.
The blaze at En-Vogue in Bradshawgate started at about 10.30pm on Friday night after an electrical short circuit in the club's light-up sign.
The Street Angels had moved into the club’s empty neighbouring unit – previously a takeaway – earlier this month and had found it the ideal location.
On Saturday volunteers thought the base would be out of use for weeks and feared they had lost a lot of their valuable first aid equipment, coats and flip flops that were stockpiled there.
But now, in what is being hailed as a Christmas miracle, volunteers have discovered the venue and equipment – aside from smelling strongly of smoke – is largely undamaged.
Adrienne Tonge, from Bolton Street Angels, said: “Amazingly it seems all of the damage was in the fascia box outside - it didn’t get into the building.
“Electricians checked out the site on Saturday and by Saturday night we were back using the unit next to En-Vogue.
“It is a fantastic venue and it makes such a difference to us being in that central position – over the festive period we really need to be at the heart of things.”
Mrs Tonge thanked Steve Hoyle, owner of Downtown, for letting the Street Angels use his premises temporarily on Friday night and En-Vogue owner Giuseppe Granata for providing the unit.
Members of the Street Angels team raised the alarm with En-Vogue’s management and door staff after smoke poured through a ventilation shaft in the ceiling of the unit.
Bar staff quickly evacuated hundreds of revellers from the club before police arrived to take over the evacuation and cordon off the road.
Mrs Tonge added: “The five of us grabbed our personal belongings and got out – all we had was what we were wearing, and as much first aid equipment and flip flops as we could carry for two patrols.
“We ran out of flip flops by 12am and saw many more people who needed them."
The group hands out flip flops to people who are struggling to walk in uncomfortable footwear.
“It was the busiest night of the year so we just did what we could with what we had available, and helped a lot of people get home safely,” said Mrs Tonge.