‘Pop up’ post office could be part of town’s recovery from supermarket fire
PUBLISHED: 18:15 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:24 22 June 2020
A ‘pop-up’ post office could be set up in Holt as part of the recovery from a devastating fire which destroyed the town’s only supermarket.
Investigators are trying to find the cause of the blaze at Budgens in Kerridge Way, and although arson has not been ruled out, it is not considered likely.
More than 100 firefighters worked through the night on Saturday, June 20 to quell the flames and stop the blaze spreading to other buildings.
No-one was hurt in the fire at the building, which also held the town’s only post office.
Sarah Butikofer, North Norfolk District Council leader, said a temporary ‘pop-up’ post office could be set up.
She said: “We’re looking at different options - different shops in the town that are not currently being used, or it could be on the Budgens car park.”
Mrs Butikofer said the loss of the supermarket, opened in 1985, would have huge impact.
She said the business had been doing hundreds of food deliveries a week to people who were self-isolating during the coronavirus lockdown. The council is now working with Budgens’ owners, CT Baker, and other groups to make sure people did not go without.
Mrs Butikofer said: “It’s very much going to be a co-ordinated effort.”
The barn-like building’s two brick side walls and steel frame are still intact.
Piles of ruble and debris now lie in the space where shelves filled with fresh food and produce stood just days before.
Jonathan Wilby, Norfolk Fire and Rescue group manager, said 12 fire engines were part of the response, which began when a member of the public raised the alarm just after 9pm.
Mr Wilby said: “We were there within six to seven minutes.
“The building was recognised as a loss straight away so the incident commander took the correct decision to try and protect the nearby buildings.
“The investigation started as the fire was on-going. At the moment there’s no evidence to indicate the cause or origin of the fire. There is nothing to suggest any criminal activity, but we haven’t completely ruled it out.”
Mr Wilby said it was what the fire service called a “rapid development fire spread”.
The supermarket did not have sprinklers, and Mr Wilby said it was not required to under the regulations because it had a sales area of under 2,000 square metres.
He said: “The crews did remarkably well to stop it spreading. They stopped the radiated head and conducted heat from igniting neighbouring buildings.
Mr Wilby said the empty void inside the building’s high pitched roof possibly contributed to the fire’s quick spread. He said: “There’s no separation - you haven’t go anything to stop the fire spreading. It’s a tragic loss. They employ a lot of people within the town and for the community it’s a huge loss.”
Louise Cowell, communications manager for CT Baker, said they were doing their best to support the supermarket’s staff.
She said: “I can’t put into words how heartbreaking it is. We’re still in a immense amount of shock. This will have a huge impact on the town. We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of support we’ve had from the community and we want to thank them for that.”
Away from the site, the town is regaining its character, with more people on the street as shops slowly reopen.
Paul Reed, co-owner of P&S Butchers in Bull Street, said: “Everybody is still a bit shocked about it. Some people said we would see more business, but we’ve never had a problem with competition from the supermarket.”
Mr Reed said the many in the town relied on the supermarket’s car park, and if it remained closed there would a be knock-on effect to other businesses.
Sue Grey, who works at Benbows Fruiterers in High Street, added: “It’s really sad, especially for the people who work there. We have to try to keep bobbing along.”
Appeal raises thousands for supermarket’s staff
An appeal for people to “show their appreciation” to the employees of Holt’s Budgens supermarket has now raised more than £4,200.
The appeal, which can be found on www.crowdfunder.co.uk, is not designed to substitute for financial support which could come from councils or the government, but as a separate initiative that can boost morale.
Jono Read, who set up the fundraiser, said: “Budgens has served Holt for 35 years, with community and charity at the centre of its ethos. [The fire] has left those who have served its local community so tirelessly during the coronavirus outbreak - and indeed for years and decades before - without employment. They’ve kept shelves stocked, provided local deliveries to the elderly and most vulnerable, and worked around the clock to see this north Norfolk town through the good times and the bad.”
Meanwhile, NNDC is providing emergency food supplies to anyone affected by the closure, call 01263 516000 for more.
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