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Cost of fire at Palm Paper factory in King’s Lynn was more than £11m, report reveals

PUBLISHED: 09:56 26 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:56 26 September 2017

The Palm Paper fire in King's Lynn in October 2016. Picture: Paul Tibbs.

The Palm Paper fire in King's Lynn in October 2016. Picture: Paul Tibbs. <

The cost of a major fire at a paper factory in west Norfolk topped £11m, it has been revealed.

More than 80 firefighters attended the blaze at Palm Paper’s plant at Saddlebow near King’s Lynn in October last year, to extinguish a fire which halted production at the newsprint supplier.

Firefighters at the time reported that the fire had destroyed large paper bales and machinery at the factory.

Newly-filed accounts reveal for the first time the cost of the fire to the EDP/EADT Top 100 company, which employs around 185 people.

The report details costs relating to the fire including property damage (£9.5m), business interruption (£1.15m) and the impairment of fixed assets destroyed (£811,000), with insurers paying out a total of £13.3m.

Meanwhile, Palm’s overall financial losses for the year to December 31, 2016, rose to £8.77m from £5.11m in 2015, while turnover dropped to £137.85m from £156.62m the year before.

Palm Paper said it had been on track to meet its annual objectives before the fire on October 7, after which “production volume levels of newsprint were severely curtailed”.

Aside from the impact of the fire, the company said it had seen a boost after the Brexit referen-dum in June 2016, as newsprint prices increased by 10% in the second half of the year – and highlighted a positive in further uncertainty as the UK leaves the EU.

“Brexit ramifications have resulted in much uncertainty which will remain in place for the foreseeable future and this should strengthen Palm’s position in the UK newsprint market as news-print buyers focus on securing their requirements locally,” said the company in a statement to the accounts.

“At the same time, non-UK newsprint suppliers will be discouraged from exporting to the UK.”

The fire last October was confined to a small area of the processing plant by the building’s sprinkler systems, but firefighters stayed on the scene through the night to monitor it.

Crews from across Norfolk were joined by colleagues from Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. At the time, fire chiefs suspected three or four one-tonne bales were involved in the fire, which also affected machinery.

Staff were evacuated from the factory in Poplar Avenue, and one person was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

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