A Birmingham chemist's shop was almost destroyed by fire yesterday - just months after it underwent a #25,000 refurbishment to repair damage caused in last summer's tornado.
Rakesh Sirpal, the owner of Sirpal Chemist at 274 Lady-pool Road, in Sparkbrook, was coming to terms yesterday with having to rebuild the premises for the second time in six months after the fire swept through the building at about 6am.
Mr Sirpal, aged 47, was not in Birmingham when the tornado brought devastation to much of the south of the city last July - he was on holiday in Egypt's Sharm el Sheik resort when 88 people were killed in a series of al Qaida bombings.
Despite his unfortunate streak of fortune, Mr Sirpal said he considered himself to be lucky. "I expect many people who have experienced what I have would think they have been cursed, but my family have survived all these things so I consider myself lucky," he said.
Mr Sirpal and his wife Sudesh were called to the premises by police just after 6am after the building's alarm alerted the emergency services.
"When I first saw it burning my heart sank. We have been here for 20 years and it was like watching all that work go up in smoke," said Mr Sirpal.
"We had just about got over the tornado as business had only just returned. But now we have to pick up the pieces again."
Mr Sirpal, who lives in Bartley Green, manages four chemists across Birmingham, including a second on Ladypool Road, and stores in Bordesley Village and Castle Bromwich. All the stores trade under different names.
He said he would rebuild the fully-insured premises, which lost its roof and windows when the 130mph twister hit the Sparkbrook, Moseley and Balsall Heath areas of the city on July 28.
More than 30 firefighters were called to the premises yesterday after an electrical fault was thought to have triggered the blaze.
The fire destroyed the service area at the front of the ground floor of the building, and a photographic machine. The rear storage area is also thought to have been badly damaged by smoke.
The first floor of the property was also wrecked by the inferno, which saw crews from Highgate, Billesley, Hay Mills, Ladywood, Bournbrook and the city centre rush to the scene. Nearby buildings experienced minor damage but no one was injured in the fire.
Mrs Sirpal said: "After the tornado we had to have a new roof, windows and guttering. Trade had just got back to normal but now we will have to start again.
"When I first looked at the building and saw it burning it felt like our livelihood was going up in flames.
"We have had some bad experiences in the last few months, but you have got to be positive. You just have to keep going."
A West Midlands Fire Service spokesman said the fire was reported at 6.07am.