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Cause of Holt supermarket blaze found

PUBLISHED: 10:36 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 23 July 2020

Jonathan Wilby, group manager, Norfolk Fire and Rescue, at the remaining shell of Budgens of Holt after the fire. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jonathan Wilby, group manager, Norfolk Fire and Rescue, at the remaining shell of Budgens of Holt after the fire. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The fire which destroyed Holt’s only supermarket was caused by an electrical fault, investigators have found.

The Budgens site in Holt on July 18. Picture: Stuart AndersonThe Budgens site in Holt on July 18. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Norfolk Fire and Rescue has finished its enquiries into the blaze at Budgens in Kerridge Way on Saturday, June 20.

A Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We have concluded our investigations into the fire at Budgens in Holt.

“We believe the cause to be an electrical fault and have passed our findings to the site owners and insurance companies.”

More than a month after the fire, the supermarket’s high-pitched frame is still intact. Most of the adjacent car park is still off limits, and hoardings have been put up around part of the building. A sign with the message ‘We Love Budgens Staff’ hangs at the entrance to the site.

The Budgens site in Holt on July 18. Picture: Stuart AndersonThe Budgens site in Holt on July 18. Picture: Stuart Anderson

MORE: ‘Pop up’ post office will operate in Holt following supermarket fire

An online appeal set up for people to “show their appreciation” to the dozens of staff who worked there ended up raising £7,450, contributed by 200 people.

Budgens also housed the town’s only Post Office. A ‘pop’up’ postal service has been set up at the nearby Bakers and Larners department store. Both businesses are owned by CT Baker.

A CT Baker spokesman said the remains of the building would be removed by mid-August. Access has been reinstated via the walkway through to Appleyard and a smaller car park on Kerridge Way has reopened, and is currently free of charge.

Jane Gurney-Read, managing director of CT Baker, said the supermarket would be rebuilt.

The Budgens site in Holt on July 18. Picture: Stuart AndersonThe Budgens site in Holt on July 18. Picture: Stuart Anderson

She said: “My team and I are working together with all the relevant parties, including the district council’s planning team, to get moving on plans to replace Budgens of Holt as quickly as we can.

“I am absolutely committed to rebuilding the store, and am now considering all the options open to us for a temporary solution in the meantime. These will be shared as soon as they are confirmed.”

About 150 customers - many of whom are vulnerable and cannot leave their homes - who relied on grocery deliveries from Budgens have been being supplied by the supermarket’s sister store in Aylsham.

The supermarket was opened in 1985, and was described by residents as a “social lifeline” and a place “full of community spirit”.

A drone image of the fire at Budgens of Holt. Photo: O BirchA drone image of the fire at Budgens of Holt. Photo: O Birch

Mrs Jane Gurney-Read said: “The store was so much more than a supermarket, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic where our colleagues were a lifeline for many local people. It was an integral part of the local community.”

“The outpouring of support shown by our community, not just to us, but to each other during the pandemic and certainly since the fire has been quite incredible. People have come together in a remarkable show of unity.”MORE: ‘It was a social lifeline’ - local people still reeling from loss of Budgens in Holt.


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