SHAFAQNA -Â Â large fire has broken out at a mosque in south London.
The Baitul Futuh Mosque in London Road in Morden, which describes itself as the largest mosque in western Europe, was being tackled by 70 firefighters.
London Fire Brigade said about 50% of the building’s ground floor was alight and the first floor was also on fire.
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said a man was taken to hospital suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.
The brigade was called at just after 12:00 BST to the mosque, which also has a community centre attached.
Station Manager Philip Morton, who is at the scene, said: “This is a large fire and our crews are working hard to minimise fire spread to other parts of the mosque.
“We are working closely with the local community to ensure our damage control operations take full regard of the religious significance of the building’s contents.”
Julian Roman, from Morden was reporting as saying by the BBC: “There’s really thick smoke at the minute.
“I saw it start from my window. There was a tiny bit of smoke, some alarms.
“Now there are firefighters, ambulances, hundreds of people.”
The Baitul Futuh Mosque serves the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and was built on the site of the old Express Dairies in 1999.
Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis described the mosque as a “major landmark” in the area.
Damage to the “beautiful building” will be a “big blow” to the community, he said.
Mr Alambritis said the mosque is manned by security staff and suggested the fire could have been caused by cooking preparations rather than an arson attack.
Lord Ahmad, a high-profile member of Ahmadiyya community and junior government minister,Â tweeted : “This is a beautiful mosque complex which has transcended barriers and been a beacon of peace -thoughts & prayers.”