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‘Lucky escape’ after fire destroys flat about town centre shops

PUBLISHED: 14:25 29 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:09 29 July 2018

Firefighters were called to the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: AMBER ROUNCE

Firefighters were called to the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: AMBER ROUNCE

Archant

Witnesses have told of a fire which destroyed a flat above a shop in the centre of a Norfolk town.

Firefighters were called to the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: AMBER ROUNCEFirefighters were called to the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: AMBER ROUNCE

The blaze broke out in the residence above Caton’s used furniture store in Market Street, North Walsham, at around 4.30pm on Saturday.

Although no-one was reported hurt in the fire, the flames consumed the upper two stories of the listed building and caused smoke and water damage to Caton’s and the music and games shop, Disc’N’Dat, next door.

A woman in her 40s lived in the flat with her dog and son, who was not home at the time.

Jon Caton, who has run his shop for 10 years, said: “Everything happened so quickly, from people in the street shouting fire, fire, and a colleague of mine went upstairs and we got the lady and her dog out.

Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in North Walsham on July 28. Picture: MARK WATTSFirefighters at the scene of a blaze in North Walsham on July 28. Picture: MARK WATTS

“She was obviously shocked and in a daze.

“We tried to use our fire extinguishers where the fire was but it was too inflamed by then to do anything.”

Simon ‘Tank’ Rooney was working at vape shop The Vapologists across the road when the fire broke out.

It was just one of the nearby businesses which were forced to close while crews from Cromer, Mundesley, Stalham, Aylsham stations came to put out the blaze.

Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in North Walsham on July 28. Picture: MARK WATTSFirefighters at the scene of a blaze in North Walsham on July 28. Picture: MARK WATTS

MORE: Fire at a property in North Walsham

He said: “I could see the flames through the window in the flat so I rang 999, and then I could see the man from the kebab shop with a fire extinguisher.

“Then the fire got worse and there were three explosions - they weren’t massive - but I thought ‘enough is enough’ and I shut up the shop.”

Amber Rounce, who also saw the fire, described it as “unsettling and scary”.

She said: “There was a loud bang as the windows of the flat exploded and the flames began to leap out of the window and began to sweep upwards with the gusts of wind.”

Emergency services on the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: RICHARD BARREmergency services on the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: RICHARD BARR

Mr Caton said he would continue to open while the clean up and repairs were being carried out, but he could not trade as normal as he had no electricity.

He said: “I will be open but I can’t use the till or the card machine.

“No-one was injured and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Whatever happens, we’ll get through it.”

Firefighters remained on the scene until after 8pm.

Emergency services on the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: RICHARD BARREmergency services on the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: RICHARD BARR

The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed.

Firefighters were called to the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: AMBER ROUNCEFirefighters were called to the scene of a fire in North Walsham. Picture: AMBER ROUNCE


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