A cafe owner is thanking his lucky stars after the fire that gutted nine shops in Brisbane’s south on Thursday morning came within inches of spreading to his business.

Daniel Bellas said he felt for his next-door neighbours who lost their cafe and restaurant in the early-morning blaze, but was thankful that the flames failed to jump the fence and spread to his business.

The nine shops in the complex next door were damaged, most of them destroyed, after flames ripped through the small complex on Old Cleveland Road in Coorparoo the day before Good Friday.

Emergency services were called about 2.15am after smoke was seen coming from the BWS shop.

QFES Inspector Doug May said firefighters found three-quarters of the complex engulfed in flames upon arrival and seven fire crews battled the blaze until daylight.

The shops destroyed were Copper Blue Cafe & Restaurant, Fire & Spice Restaurant, Domino’s Pizza, BWS, a newsagency, bakery, clothing alterations shop and laundromat. TAB was damaged but intact.

Mr Bellas opened Belesis Cafe Restaurant 19 years ago and will hand over the keys to new owners so he can enjoy retirement on May 1.

He thought there had been a car accident outside his business when he first saw emergency services.

“I arrived about 5.20am and we didn’t have any power at all, so I came outside to see what happened and there were all these people everywhere – fire brigade and everything,” Mr Bellas said.

“So I asked an officer what happened and he said next door is burnt. I thought it was only one [shop], but when I looked it was the whole complex.

“I know a few people [in the complex], I feel sorry for them because they make a living out of it, people have to work and what a time to happen, just before Easter, it’s unbelievable.”

When asked whether he felt lucky enough to buy a lottery ticket after Thursday’s turn of events, Mr Bellas said he would leave that up to his wife.

“I thank God because I’m safe on this side … they [the firefighters] got it [the fire] in time,” he said.

“I feel very lucky, the power will come back later but I’m very lucky the whole thing is standing.”

A fire service spokesman said the complex suffered “considerable structural damage and a partial roof collapse”.

Detectives and fire investigators were examining the scene throughout Thursday.

“I’ve spoken with one [shop owner],” QFES Inspector Doug May said.

“The baker, being the early riser here, of course, has come through this morning and he’s pretty shattered about his business disappearing and right before Easter, too.

“He would have been in full swing coming out with hot cross buns, no doubt … but everything in this block is gone now.”

Old Cleveland Road was completely blocked during the first few hours of the firefighting operation, but reopened later in the morning.

Article by Toby Crockford – brisbane times – Source Link