BOLTON’S Street Angels have lost their new home after a fire ripped through the front sign of the nightclub next door.
Volunteers are searching for a temporary base for the busy festive period after an electrical short circuit sparked a blaze inside the fascia of En-Vogue in Bradshawgate at about 10.30pm last night.
Bolton Street Angels had just moved into the club’s empty neighbouring unit – previously a takeaway – and had found it an ideal town centre location.
Adrienne Tonge, from the group, said team members had hoped the empty unit was to be their home for the foreseeable future.
Now volunteers fear they will not be able to use the base over Christmas and have lost valuable first aid equipment, coats and flip flops they had stockpiled there.
Mrs Tonge said: “The unit was going to be a perfect base for us for the Christmas period and we were so grateful to get it.
“But the night we needed it most, it all went wrong.
“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.
Mrs Tonge added: “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.
“All of the stock we have built up over the years was on the premises and I very much doubt it will be retrievable now.”
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.
The Street Angels now expect the base to be out of use for some time due to damage to the lighting and electrics, and are again looking for a new home.
Mrs Tonge added: “My expectation is that all the lighting in the room will have to come down so I do not think there is any way we will be using the base in the next few weeks.”
The Bolton Street Angels team are due to meet with Steve Hoyle, owner of Downtown and chairman of Bolton’s pub watch group, today to discuss temporary accommodation.
One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: “It was such a busy night in Bolton last night, everywhere was heaving, and it could have been far more serious had the club not been evacuated so quickly.
“It was just lucky the fire did not spread any further.”
Bolton Central watch manager Tony McKenna said: "The fire has been caused by electrical short-circuiting and was well-developed in the timber of the structure.
"This was very close to being a fully fledged building fire but luckily crews were able to deal with it.”
Relief crews from Bolton Central and Farnworth left the scene at 3.10am, and Bradshawgate was closed to traffic for several hours.
Rosalino Granata, the owner of En-Vogue and the unit next door, was unavailable for comment.
Anyone who can donate first aid equipment, flip flops or coats to the Street Angels to replace what has been lost should call Mrs Tonge on 07538 349686 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.