An explosion which destroyed a kebab shop in a botched insurance job was like "something out of an action movie".
Witnesses to the blast, which demolished Kams Grill, in Narborough Road, Leicester, described how a huge ball of flame blew fragments of metal, rubble and shards of glass towards them.
Fiaz Ansari, a chef at the restaurant, was killed as he tried to burn the place down to make an insurance claim.
Leicester Crown Court was told the 41-year-old father-of-two had doused the premises in petrol, intending to set it alight and fraudulently claim up to £250,000 in insurance.
Many eyewitnesses, whose statements were read out in court yesterday, said they felt lucky to be alive. One, Callum Price, said: "There was a loud bang and flames came out the whole of the building.
"It was like something out of an action movie, with glass and debris scattered everywhere, along with bricks and rubbish. It was very shocking to be so close. I thought it was a bomb or a gas explosion."
He said the building was reduced to burning rubble.
The court heard Mr Ansari recruited employee Shahbaaz Khan and friend Mehwish Yasin, both 25, to help him. They deny Mr Ansari's manslaughter and reckless arson, on August 29 last year.
The defendants said they thought it would only be a "small fire" to justify the insurance claim.
Nathaniel Powers and his mother, Pauline Clacey – who suffered nightmares and post-traumatic shock – were five metres from the restaurant and takeaway when it blew up, at 2.22am.
Mr Powers said: "I heard what sounded like a hissing, then there was an intense bang, shaking the ground.
"The force from the blast pushed us backwards. I felt a wave of heat and two metal objects were propelled across the road."
Mrs Clacey said: "I heard a loud bang and a flash lit up the night sky.
"The ground shook and I could see glass everywhere. I was trembling in shock. I feel very lucky to be alive."
People outside the Looking Glass bar, in Braunstone Gate, suffered minor cuts from "a shower of glass".
Nearby properties were damaged. A Polish delicatessen next door lost £20,000 worth of stock.
A taxi was hit by flying debris. The driver, Zuber Hafeji, said his two women passengers were terrified by the blast.
Khan, a bread-maker at the grill, was seen fleeing from the scene of the blast by a neighbour.
He had been dropped off at the scene with Mr Ansari – with whom he shared an apartment in Abbey Park Road, Leicester – by Yasin.
Yasin, who lived in nearby Cranmer Street, waited in the car for their return.
Khan said he saw Mr Ansari pouring petrol and waited in a nearby alley for him.
Adrienne Lucking, prosecuting, said the neighbour, Daniel Smith, peered over a wall and saw a man running in the alley.
She said: "As Khan passed him he looked up, wearing some form of disguise. The eyes were wide open as if in shock."
Another neighbour, Michelle Barber, told the jury she saw a man – Khan – running along Cranmer Street, holding what appeared to be a tight roll of money. He got into a silver car, driven by Yasin, who drove off.
Mrs Lucking said Ansari was involved with previous failed business ventures and had failed to repay a £42,000 loan from 2006.
He took out £250,000 business interruption cover a few weeks before the explosion at the leased premises.
The trial continues.