Couple tell of devastation after village store consumed by fireball
- Credit: MAURICE GRAY
A devastated couple have spoken of their horror after a fire destroyed their village store.
Shelley and Billy Hartlett, who run Bacton Superstore, in north Norfolk, were left picking up the pieces after a fireball engulfed the Coast Road property, which remained closed this week.
They praised the response of the emergency services and said only the quick-thinking of staff, who evacuated the store, prevented further tragedy.
Reliving last Tuesday's terror, Mr Hartlett said: 'It was like a fireball which took everything in its wake.
'One of the staff smelt burning while serving a customer and, along with another member of staff, quickly, and correctly, acted by making sure no one was in the store and called the emergency services. It happened so quickly.
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'The fire service was on the scene very quickly and cordoned off the area closing the road.'
Most of the store's stock was destroyed in the blaze, which is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in a fridge-freezer in a storeroom.
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However, local residents rallied round to offer support, including blankets, food and drink to staff and friends who watched on helplessly as the drama unfolded.
The couple, who have two young children, took over the running of the seaside store about four years ago and said it had become a community hub popular with locals and visitors alike.
Mrs Hartlett, who apologised to those affected by the fire, added: 'We are so grateful to all those who tried to help.
'They [the fire service] were brilliant and very professional. We were very lucky and thanks to our staff member who acted very quickly to evacuate the premises, no one was hurt.
'We will be back. It took over four years to build up a good reputation and we promise to bring it back as soon as possible.'