FAMILIES were evacuated from their homes yesterday afternoon after a fire in a derelict building led to one of Paisley’s busiest streets being closed off.
An outhouse to the rear of an abandoned furniture store in Wellmeadow Street went up in flames at around 3.30pm, sending thick black smoke billowing high into the air.
Residents living in the properties above scampered out of their homes as flames licked up the side of the building.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus had to crawl through the furniture store – which previously operated as Smith’s the Butchers – in order to tackle the blaze at the back.
The busy junction, which meets Well Street in the West End of the town, was closed off after emergency crews raced to the scene.
Four fire appliances carrying high-pressure pumps arrived within minutes of a 999 call being received and local cops were also called in to divert traffic away from the area.
An investigation into how the fire started was ongoing last night but police revealed a number of people had been detained.
One source said: “The fire seemed to be quite bad and the damage is thought to be serious.
“The police have detained a number of people as they try to work out exactly what happened.”
Student Ryan Heggarty lives above the smoke-filled shop, which is next door to a Ladbrokes bookmakers, and he admitted he was jolted by fear after seeing black smoke float by his window.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: “I had been looking outside as there was a man being lifted by the cops. I think there had been some kind of disturbance but, as I was watching, I noticed that everyone on the street was looking up at me.
“It was only then that I saw the smoke billowing out of the shop below and I got quite a fright.
“I didn’t know whether to try to run down the stairs of my close or not in case the fire had spread there.
“Thankfully, it was clear and the fire brigade told me to come down. They were evacuating everyone else from the flats too.
“They did a good job and were here within seconds of the fire breaking out.”