‘We are very fortunate’ - businesses describe lucky escape following town centre fire
- Credit: Archant
Businesses have been taking stock of the damage caused by a major town centre fire.
Around 40 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Sue Ryder shop in King's Lynn, High Street, after the fire broke out around 10.30am yesterday.
Nearby traders and residents from the flats above the shops were evacuated as soon as the fire broke out, looking helplessly on as the charity shop was engulfed in flames and thick clouds of smoke filled the High Street.
Many shop workers were not able to return until around 5pm and were only allowed time to lock up their stores.
A Sue Ryder spokesman confirmed the fire began in their store and that an investigation was under way to determine the cause.
The charity, which raises funds for palliative, neurological and bereavement care, will be looking at ways to make up funds due to the closure of the shop.
The Money Shop and Eatwell cafe sustained severe smoke damage and both remained closed this morning. The British Heart Foundation furniture store opposite Sue Ryder was also shut.
Dovile Boron, 28, from PMP Recruitment opposite the charity shop, said people were evacuated as soon as smoke was seen billowing out of the windows.
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'I saw smoke and then very suddenly it escalated quickly,' she said.
'People were still in their flats, it was beautiful to see people running and helping them to get out.
'I have never seen a fire like it in my life, it was very scary.'
Mick Charalambou, from the Gold 2 Cash store two doors down from Sue Ryder, said he was not able to return to the shop until this morning.
He said the store did not sustain any damage despite being only a couple of metres away from the scene of the fire.
'We didn't know if we could open today,' he said. 'It's not that bad here, it smells a little bit but that can go.'
But Mr Charalambou expressed his sadness after seeing what was left of the Sue Ryder store, after the fire raged through the building and caused the first floor and roof to collapse.
'It's a shame for Sue Ryder, it's a shell,' he said. 'We were lucky really.'
Nadia Drozd, 33, from Cash Converters opposite the site of the fire, said the store smelt badly of smoke but was largely unaffected by the fire.
'We left everything here,' Ms Drozd said. 'We are all okay but it is very sad.
'When I went home I couldn't sleep. This morning it felt like it was a dream but I get here and see the reality.
'You can see through the building, the fire spread so quickly, I didn't realise how big this building was until now.'
Ms Drozd said she had been working in the High Street for six years and knew the staff at the Sue Ryder store.
'It's very upsetting that we are not going to see them anymore,' she added.
Anne Winter, from gift shop Deck of Cards, said: 'Touch wood we are okay, we are very fortunate.
'I'm glad everybody is safe and nobody was hurt.
'It's sad that businesses have been affected, it's quite devastating for them really.'