May 21 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Dozens of people, including the distressed owner, watched in horror as a well-respected family business went up in flames last night.
More than 70 firefighters tackled the blaze at Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre, which employs several people in Burgh Road, and was established in 1981.
The smoke could be seen 13 miles away in Norwich city centre and firefighters were still on scene more than seven hours after the fire started.
Fire station manager John Baker said the 60 x 40m building was left an “almost total loss” after the fire ripped through the roof and inside of the building. The blaze started just 30 minutes after staff locked up the centre at about 5pm and went home.
A passer-by spotted smoke coming from the building and alerted the emergency services at about 5.30pm.
At the height of the blaze eight appliances were in attendance, plus the environmental protection unit, two water carriers, the aerial ladder platform and support appliances, and the control unit from Wymondham.
Parts of the busy A140 around Aylsham were closed for several hours and police and ambulance crews also attended.
Mr Baker said: “There were no casualties. We have no idea what started it. We expect one appliance to be on scene until midnight. The building is an almost total loss.
“The plume contained a bit of asbestos, so we had to protect our men on the ladder, and the Environment Agency attended.”
Crews also had to make sure that other businesses in the area did not go up in flames as well.
He added: “We have spoken to the owner of the business who had locked up about 30 minutes earlier. He was extremely shocked.”
Farmer David Browne, who lives nearby, said: “I heard the roof snapping from my farm and then I saw the black smoke. I came to see if I could help. It appeared to me that the crews’ biggest problem was getting enough water to the scene.”
Rachel and Matthew Hales saw the smoke from their home in Tuttington and they joined a small crowd of onlookers on the A140. Mr Hales said: “We came out to see what was happening because it is a local company that employs local people. It is an old-fashioned family business that has been going for years.
“You feel for the people working there.”
The owner of the business was too upset to talk last night.