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New skyscraper blamed for fires
A view of the suspended parking bay where sunlight reflected from the nearby 'Walkie-Talkie' building reportedly melted part of a car
Business owners have hit out at developers of a new skyscraper which they blame for starting fires and causing damage by reflecting the sun's rays.
The half-finished 37-storey tower at 20 Fenchurch Street in central London has been dubbed the "Walkie Scorchie" due to its distinctive shape and apparent ability to bounce heat from the sun onto buildings in the next street.
Angry business owners in Eastcheap say the £200 million project has blistered paintwork, caused tiles to smash and singe fabric. A motorist has also said the intense heat melted part of his Jaguar.
Developers described the problem as "a phenomenon" and said they are "looking into the matter as a priority".
Ali Akay, of Re Style barber's, said the position of the sun at a certain time of the day caused a searing bolt of sunlight to start a small fire and burn a hole in his company doormat.
He said: "We were working and just saw the smoke coming out of the carpet. We tried to cut the fire down, there were customers in at the time and they were obviously not happy. Customers are not going to come in if there is a fire in the front of the door."
Mr Akay, 22, said they had spoken to the managers of 20 Fenchurch Street to find a solution.He said: "It is getting really serious. This is a health and safety issue. They should have looked into this before they built it."
Colleague Ayca Juma, 29, said: "It's the Walkie Scorchie. That's what caused this."
Motorists have reported problems, too. Local businessman Martin Lindsay told City A.M. his high-spec Jaguar XJ, parked on Eastcheap on Thursday afternoon, had warped panels along one side. The wing mirror and badge had also melted from the heat of the reflection, he claimed.
A joint statement from developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf said: "The phenomenon is caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky. It currently lasts for approximately two hours per day, with initial modelling suggesting that it will be present for approximately two-to-three weeks. As responsible developers we are making every effort to keep local businesses informed and we have communicated with them regularly since the issue first appeared. While we investigate the situation further we have liaised with the City of London to suspend three parking bays in the area which may be affected."