Photo gallery and video: Updated: Crowds gather to see destruction caused by major blaze in Fakenham’s Market Place

The Fakenham fire from Colkirk. PHOTO: Shane Hyde The Fakenham fire from Colkirk. PHOTO: Shane Hyde

Monday, May 26, 2014
12:26 PM

Hundreds of people have gathered in Fakenham’s Market Place in shock and disbelief to see the burned out shell of what used to be one of the town’s most recognisable buildings.

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Firefighters tackle a blaze at Fakenham. PHOTO: Madeleine Long.Firefighters tackle a blaze at Fakenham. PHOTO: Madeleine Long.

Firefighters are still at the scene of the blaze which ripped through the Original Factory Shop plus seven homes and two other commercial properties yesterday morning.

A cordon remains in place around the site which has destroyed the former Aldiss store which has stood in the heart of Fakenham for more than 100 years.

Chief fire officer Nigel Williams confirmed today that the buildings affected in Upper Market Place would have to be demolished and that crews could be on the scene for the rest of this week.

Louise Watts, who lives at Red Lion Court, just near where the fire broke out at 10.30am yesterday, said she “had never seen anything like it”. Together with her partner Mark John, she was evacuated from her home and was put up in a bed and breakfast in Fakenham last night.

Firefighters tackle a blaze at Fakenham. PHOTO: Madeleine Long.Firefighters tackle a blaze at Fakenham. PHOTO: Madeleine Long.

The 43-year-old said: “I went outside to hang my washing out and I turned around and saw a cloud of black smoke. I said someone’s either has got a fire or something’s on fire.

“I came out to have a look and as I got there, the windows were being blown out and car caught on fire.

“There were flames at the back of ours. It was scary. How quickly it took hold was the scariest part. On the plus side at least no one was hurt.”

As reported, horrified onlookers stood in disbelief yesterday morning as scores of firefighters fought to contain the fire.

Firefighters tackle a blaze at Fakenham. PHOTO: Madeleine Long.Firefighters tackle a blaze at Fakenham. PHOTO: Madeleine Long.

The rising plume of dark, acrid smoke could be seen on the horizon from up to 10 miles away, while police cordons led to five-mile traffic tailbacks in all directions.

Duty brigade commander David Ashworth said the fire had affected a 70m by 70m area covering three and four floors.

The roofs collapsed, leaving smouldering rubble inside the buildings - making it too dangerous for the firefighters to enter.

He said a secure water supply was tapped into from the nearby River Wensum.

Fire in Fakenham town centre.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYFire in Fakenham town centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Fourteen crews created a fire break to stop the flames racing through the roof space of the building - and to halt its spread to the nearby Fakenham Parish Church, which was heavily affected by smoke.

Two people were dramatically rescued by the fire brigade from the flats above the properties but no one was taken to hospital.

Meanwhile, a service at the church was abandoned, with parishioners rallying to rescue valuables that were inside the 14th century building. The church was not affected as badly as first feared it would be and is back open today.

Send your photos and updates to kate.scotter@archant.co.uk.

36 comments

  • I feel absolutely horrified at what i have just read on these comments, Yeah ok they probably did sell items cheap but to be honest i think your attitude samphirelover is disgusting, people have lost their jobs and homes and all you can think about was avoiding it, sorry but i think your totally wrong and out of order, show some compassion!!

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    Tanya Abel

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

  • A policeman told me yesterday that the window of the on fire factory shop exploded and set fire to the car. He also said the car did not have a disabled badge and was illegally parked. I don't know if illegal parking invalidates your insurance.

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    snoopy

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Craftypolly .... Don't you think it's strange that nobody moved the car? Sorry for the people who owned the car but if they're insured they will be OK.

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    samphirelover

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Can we please spare a thought for the poor disabled people who lost their car. Although it is only a car and can be replaced, imagine their horror and upset as it is probably their only means to get about.

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    craftypolly

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • The car did NOT start the fire, it started in the shop then spread to the car.

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    craftypolly

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • A big shame for everyone concerned and not a time to sling mud at someone giving a few words to a reporter at a stressful time. And whilst a church may be in the minds of those who are religious, our church buildings represent rather more to the communities which surround them-even to those who are non believers- and sometimes more it seems than those who attend services these days. A timely reminder for all to have good insurance and flame retardant boxes for documents and smoke alarms.

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Many people do not realise there were flats above the connected derelict building, which has been destroyed and now completely collapsed. Whilst the church had the misfortune of minor damage, it can be repaired on a short-term scale. The people, who lived in the flats have lost personal belongings, valuables which are priceless. These people deserve our prayers and thoughts as they have lost their home. Informed by a reliable source present at the time when this happened, the car did not start the fire. It was alight because of the fire spreading from The Factory Shop. Very sad day for my hometown, although it could have been worse but for the incredible work by the emergency services.

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    Natalie Wright

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • To DaisyRoots ..... The general opinion in Fakenham this morning is that it started in The Original Factory shop and spread to the car. I can't understand why somebody didn't break the car windows and just push it out of the way. It belonged to disabled people as they are the only people allowed to park up there.

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    samphirelover

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Hear, hear, Daisy Roots. You can bet your bottom dollar that if the rector had abandoned the ancient belongings of the church to smoke damage, some of these armchair commentators would have quickly condemned his lack of care for the town's heritage. Or perhaps they prefer to live in market towns where discount plastic shops and takeaways are more important than mediaeval buildings? I wouldn't be surprised; that attitude is one of the main problems facing our country at the moment.

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    JRAN

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • So sorry that historic parts of Fakenham have been destroyed by fire, but thankful no-one has been injured, as far as we know. Strange comments from the rector, I agree - should have thought that his first thought would be for those people affected, not for the church property. After all the church is not the building, it is the people. A real church can meet anywhere, it doesn't need a building around it!!

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    Linda Golding

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Nor can I see anything amiss in what the Rector said-it seems a moderate comment in keeping with his occupation from someone whose work place, stuffed full of historical bits and bobs and itself of architectural importance, was threatened by a potential spread of a fire. Being an atheist doesnt mean abandoning one's humanity.

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • I am astonished at the level of bile levelled at the church and the rector in these comments. Clearly these have been written by people who are ignorant of the social action and charitable good that local churches do in their communities. The new foodbank in Fakenham is such an example, led by the church to help people struggling to buy their groceries, and Rev Bell has spoken out on the issue of food poverty in the town. What bit are you doing to help your communities, I wonder, as the Church acts? Very little, I imagine. And yet you use a few edited comments in a newspaper story to mae snide points about Christians. Shame on you!

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    JRAN

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Blimey Backwoodsman- I am an atheist but I would bother about the church because of its historic connections with the people of Fakenham. Before I read about the car fire I was going to chunter about the lack of care shown by the occupiers of some of our old and historical buildings-whether it is a badly run takeaway in a 18th C listed building or the National Trust being reckless with fireworks, a little extra muscle, in terms of demanding better fire prevention ,for the relevant council departments wouldn't come amiss. Would have been a shame if Fakenham had had Foulsham type Great Fire. But who would have expected a car fire to do so much damage. Bet Aldiss's insurers have their fingers crossed the car was insured...

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • mjc - in the same way a little bit of religion never hurt anyone, eh?

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    arfur

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • If proven the fire did start in the car and then spread, to the buildings, then as long as the car is insured everything destroyed by the fire will be covered by the car insurance, and I would imagine anything else lost by the fire like jobs (wages) may be covered as well. but I would imagine that would have to be looked into. buildings can be rebuilt, cars can be replaced.

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    Footyboy16

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • Che

    Monday, May 26, 2014

  • A little bit of religious intolerance, eh? I mean, when has that ever hurt anyone?

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    mjc

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Did anyone hear about the fire in Fakenham today?

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    Michael Rourke

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Wow,,, that sure has left a giant hole right in the middle of such a small quiet town... But big up all the fire crews that have been there for hours to control the spread.... And thank the holy house even if smoke damaged that nobody was killed or hurt is such a massive fire.... Thanks nosey people for the pics but it really wasnt the time for a selfie!!

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    omg86

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Ah well, a point, like a joke, is a terrible thing to miss and hey, you can believe in nothing you know ! Belief in nothing should be taken as seriously. In fact given the same respect as believe in something, To think differently is simply arrogant is in not ?

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    Che

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • I agree with Michael Rourke. It is awful when someone "uses a terrible event like this as a personal platform to draw attention to themselves" and we have to condemn the church for making this loss something to do with them. This is a loss of a business, and jobs, and livelihoods, not something to do with an unproved belief system that has enslaved humans for centuries. What on earth have some bits of wood and metal got to do with something you believe in? Belief is in the head, not in artefacts.

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    Hmmmmm.

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • backwoodsman quote; "Good job the firemen weren't on strike like they were a few weeks ago! " If you respect the Fire service so much why would you post this comment?

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    Michael Rourke

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • It wasn't really literal, I'm sure he has some form of education, it was more so an objection to his comment, perhaps "small minded" or "pathetic" would have been more appropriate. There always has to be one person that uses a terrible event like this as a personal platform to draw attention to themselves, rather than focus on the event itself. His comments were inappropriate and petty.

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    Michael Rourke

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Che gets it! An enormous fire breaks out threatening life, limb and property, what's the first thing that one would do? That's right, pray for your own property not to succumb, make sure the holy relics are safe(they are expensive things) and hope that ones retirement is not tainted by being in charge during the disaster. I have nothing but respect for the Fire Service by the way. In my uneducated way, obviously.

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    backwoodsman

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • 99% of stuff in that shop is plastic. Plastic shoes, plastic toys and plastic tat. The whole shop smells of plastic when you walk in . I imagine It is all highly flammable. Glad nobody was hurt.

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    samphirelover

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Mr Rourke, how does backwoodsman comment indicate a lack of education ?

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    Che

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • This is such a shame, the centre of a country town ripped out the very town that I first went to the Pictures in, I now live not far from Glasgow, the money that is now being thrown (rightly so) at the Glasgow School of art, I bet this does not happen to you all, start a campaign for Independence, then you will get all you need. just glad every one is OK. and well done the emergency services, who did not have at there disposal the same amount of assets that Glasgow did.

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    davea

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Congrats "Backwoodsman" another brain surgeon who tries to argue the fact that this is proof of the absence of Christ, your comments are childlike and proof indeed of the absence of education.

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    Michael Rourke

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • We have lived in Spain for the last 12 years after living in Fakenham for over 50 years. Listening to the reports via the internet on Radio Norfolk. What a shame. The one day you all needed rain!!!! Barry and Sandra Lane

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    Barry from Spain

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Good job the firemen weren't on strike like they were a few weeks ago! Their capabilities and dedication are not in question.

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    backwoodsman

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • I know religious types have a notoriously poor sense of humour, but where was the 'Holy Joke'? I just despair at the blind faith of some people.

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    backwoodsman

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Why has backwoodsman have to make such comments, surely we should be praising the emergency services, especially the fire brigade who were called out on a Sunday morning and have done a magnificent job. Backwoodsman should surely look at him herself and ask why.

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    Bob of the hill

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • The fact that there was a fire and that it had potentially put lives at risk, historical buildings, homes and livelihoods has been the ammunition you needed to make a 'holy' joke. Instead of making a comment like this, perhaps you should be asking yourself why you even feel the need to.

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    Chris Green

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Rector of Fakenham, the Rev Adrian Bell, said: “We were just starting morning service, at about 10.30am when a car caught fire in front of the Factory Shop The shop was on fire first - the car caught after. I guess the building will come down, which is a shame, but the main thing is everyone got out safely.

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    Coops

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Why bother praying for the church? if there were a God he presumably wouldn't have allowed the fireto burn dangerously close to one of His houses-unless he wants to prove the power of prayer, perhaps He is feeling a bit unloved, and needs to know that we care about holy bricks and mortar? I personally would have thought the first prayer would be to ask that no-one will be injured. It would be terrible to think that one's ministry should end in tragedy, after all.

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    backwoodsman

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • A couple of years ago there was a big fire not too far away in the flats at Drifters chip shop.

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    wattonlad

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

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