'They Would Have Been Dead': Man Lucky To Be Alive After Pizza Shop Inferno
A man said his son is lucky "the gas meter didn't blow his face off" after an explosion torched an inner-city pizza shop, sending employees running for their lives.
Nadim Albassit, 25, was working with three of his chefs at his store, Jailhouse Rock Pizza, on Tuesday afternoon when he heard a loud noise.
Just five minutes before he was set to open the doors for the day's trade, he went to investigate.
"The ovens weren't on yet, we looked around and didn't see anything suspicious. I walked over to where the gas meter was ... and I realised that it was on fire," Nadim told 10 News First's Ursula Heger.
Nadim said the fire grew quickly, so he told his staff to evacuate. As he left the shop himself and ran across Homer Street in Earlwood, he called Triple-0. A second, louder explosion boomed, and the entire shop caught fire.
"Everything just went up in flames. I couldn't believe my eyes," Nadim said.
People from surrounding businesses flooded onto the street as the store's windows shattered, with flames billowing out.
Sophia Soulos' boutique, Sophia and Co, is located just four doors from the pizza store. As she stepped onto the street, she heard one of the explosions.
"I videotaped the whole place just having a massive explosion, with chairs and debris flying out ... and cars were driving past, so I ran down the street to try and stop traffic. I am sure everyone thought I was a crazy woman," Soulos told 10 News First.
Soulos described the situation as "scary", saying it was lucky no one was close to the pizza store when the fire broke out.
"I thought that the men in the pizza shop were dead so I was screaming ... If there was anyone walking past at the time of the explosion they would have been dead."
Nadim's father, Willy, arrived at Homer Street to find it blocked by emergency vehicle.
"He rang me and said 'dad, my shop is on fire' and I said 'get the hell out of there' ... luckily the gas meter didn't blow his face off," Willy told 10 News First.
"The whole shop is gutted from inside and outside."
Willy praised his son's quick thinking in the situation, and said he was thankful no one was hurt during the incident.
"I am very, very proud of him to do what he did and get all the staff out of the way and making sure everybody was safe," he said.
Nadim is now left to grapple with the reality that the business he has owned for four years has been totally gutted by fire.
"I sacrificed everything, it is my first business that I have ever owned. These things happen unfortunately, there's nothing you can really do about it but come back bigger and stronger, I guess."
10 daily understands police are not treating the fire as suspicious.
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