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Witnesses tell of blaze at Chinese restaurant in town high street

PUBLISHED: 15:14 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:11 07 February 2020

Fire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Fire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Witnesses to a high street blaze have told how they heard people screaming as several retail units went up in flames.

Fire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The alarm was raised at 2.37pm today after a fire broke out in Watton High Street on the site of a number of retail units.

Teams from, Dereham, Thetford, Watton and Methwold spent several hours tackling the fire in the roof of Beijing Diner. The restaurant is located above Casino Games, Cookies cafe and the Watton International Food Centre.

A fire service spokesman said that at least 19 fighters attended the scene and they advised people to avoid the area and close all windows and doors if they were close by.

By around 5pm there was just smoke coming from the buildings.

No-one is believed to be injured.

Deven Changela, 44, has run Watton Edwards News and Post Office with his wife, Chandni Changela, 40, for four years.

He said: "We were working and heard screaming outside at about 2.15pm.

"We came running out of the shop and saw the flames, a lot of people trying to stop traffic and the fire engine arrived.

Firefighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFirefighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"We got everyone out of the shop and thought just run. We saw the fire engines and the flames and ran, just looking out for people and running. You don't expect this in a small town like Watton. But the community now has to pull together and help support the restaurant. Bricks and mortar can be replaced but what is important is everyone is safe."

Brian Haselgrove, 69, has lived in Watton for six years and said he had never seen a fire like it.

He said: "I first saw the smoke at about 2.30pm and walked into the town and saw the smoke get darker. It was still going as we came up the High Street. Thick, black smoke. As we came up the road we could see the fire crews tackling the blaze."

Keith Prince, 61, said: "It's a very nice Chinese restaurant and I have eaten there many times.

The fire broke out in Beijing Dinner on Watton High Street. Picture: Marc BettsThe fire broke out in Beijing Dinner on Watton High Street. Picture: Marc Betts

"I was working in the library and I fancied a snack, when I walked to the convenience store I saw all the smoke and the shops were closed.

"I worry with the finance as businesses on the High Street are struggling and the council wanted to bring life into it but this will cause shops to close.

"The buildings along the High Street are old and full of heavy timber which is making it difficult [for firefighters]. The firefighters have done an excellent job, I take my hat off to them."

More to follow.


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