Neighbour of derelict pub fire in Croydon describes terror at ‘suspicious’ blaze

Emergency services attend a fire at the Drum & Monkey pub in Gloucester Road in Croydon (PA) (PA Wire)
Emergency services attend a fire at the Drum & Monkey pub in Gloucester Road in Croydon (PA) (PA Wire)

A neighbour of one of two derelict pubs that caught fire in Croydon has described her terror as she witnessed flames “going right up into the sky”.

Around 100 firefighters rushed to tackle the blazes at the former Drum and Monkey pub on Gloucester Road, and the former Windmill pub on St James’ Road, on Thursday morning.

Both buildings, which are just streets apart, were damaged – and the fires are being treated as “suspicious” by police.

Monika Raj, who lives close to the Drum and Monkey, said she opened her front door to a “massive fire” after firefighters came knocking.

“We heard loud noises we heard the fire brigade passing by,” she said.

“We thought something happened, we didn’t know it was something just opposite our house.

“The next minute we heard a banging noise on our door. There was police, there was fire brigade people.

“As we opened the door we saw a massive fire. We don’t know how it happened.

“We actually got so scared, because my husband’s car was literally parked opposite the pub. So they advised him to quickly move the car. It was very scary to watch.”

She said she heard a “big bang” as the pub’s windows collapsed.

“I was really shocked, the flames were going right up in the sky,” she said.

“There was a big bang when the windows collapsed. Glass actually smashed and it was everywhere.”

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said eight fire engines and about 60 firefighters were called to the first blaze, at the former Windmill pub at 5.44am.

It said: “The whole of the second floor and the roof of the building were destroyed by fire, resulting in a roof collapse. There were no reports of any injuries.

“One of the brigade’s 32-metre turntable ladders was used as a water tower to tackle the fire from above.”

At 6.24am, the LFB was called to the second fire, at the former Drum & Monkey pub in Gloucester Road.

Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters attended the scene.

The fire service added: “The whole of the first and second floors of the building were destroyed by fire. There were no reports of any injuries.”

Police officers attended both buildings and put cordons in place.

The Metropolitan Police said: “The fires are being treated as suspicious and a joint investigation is being led between the Met and the London Fire Brigade.

“There have been no reports of injuries on any of the scenes. At this early stage there have been no arrests.”

The Drum and Monkey pub was bought by Epsilon Developments Limited in July 2020 for £525,000, while IGC land Holdings Limited owns the Windmill Pub, purchased in August 2022 for £1.35 million plus VAT.