Early alert prevents major fire damage to a row of Norwich shops
- Credit: Archant
An investigation is under way after a suspected arson attack at a Norwich convenience store.
Sharp-eyed passers-by called 999 after they spotted smoke rising from the yard behind the Kamajen shop in Earlham Green Lane.
Ten firefighters were swiftly on scene and extinguished the blaze early on Saturday, but warned it could have been much worse.
It happened at around 5.30am and was close to other shops, including a takeaway and a card shop, which are in the middle of a housing estate.
Simon Mason, fire investigation officer, said that two seats of fire were identified, in a wheelie bin and in a skip.
The fire service sniffer dog was used to establish whether accelerant had been used, and there were no positive hits.
Police are now investigating whether the fire was started deliberately.
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Mr Mason noted that the yard was near to houses and there had been 'potential for threat to life', and the incident could have escalated as a truck was parked in the yard and there were piles of flammable material.
'There's always a risk with these sorts of premises that if the fire's not spotted early it can take hold inside a building,' he said. 'It's a convenience store with a lot of stock and a lot of value. It was a significant fire.
'Early detection is important and the earlier people realise there's a fire and call us, the quicker we can get here and deal with it.'
The fire damaged a wooden store building used by some of the shops, melted guttering at the back of the Kamajen shop, scorched the brick wall and caused damage in the yard. Firefighters extinguished it before it could spread to the felt roof, or spread through the windows into the building.
Other businesses in the row were undamaged, including Neptune fish bar, Karen's Cards and Earlham Supplies, which sells items including shingle, sheds and fence panels.
The fire service received three 999 calls from the public and one from a person who was opening up the shop.
David Willis, proprietor of Kamajen, received a text saying what had happened and drove straight from his Long Stratton home.
He said that damage was limited but phone lines were taken out of action by the fire, and he praised the swift actions of the fire service.
Crews from Earlham and Carrow attended and used main and hose reel jets to extinguish the blaze.
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