Homes evacuated after fire breaks out at King’s Lynn car repair centre
- Credit: Ian Burt
King's Lynn residents were evacuated from their homes amid fears of an explosion after a fire broke out in a nearby car repair shop.
Fifty firefighters making up eight fire crews from across west Norfolk were called to tackle yesterday's blaze at the Bennett Accident Repair Centre on Hamburg Way, which contained 20 cars.
Although firefighters controlled the blaze, which broke out at 3pm, they feared that four gas canisters on the premises could explode, so as a precaution they evacuated 16 homes on nearby Nuthall Crescent.
And people living in the Somersby Close and Whisson Close area were advised to stay indoors and stay away from windows.
Norfolk fire and rescue service group manager Greg Preston arrived with a control unit from Wymondham.
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He said: 'We have had crews from King's Lynn, Sandringham, Terrington, Fakenham, Massingham and Wisbech – eight pumps in total.
'When the cars were on fire our concerns were for the gas canisters. Once we have located them, which the owner has told us where they are, we have a strict procedure how to cool them down.
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'It also depends on what type of gas canisters they are – we could be here a few hours or we could be here all night.'
Mat Barlow, who runs the A10 Auto Centre, opposite the car repair shop, was the first person to see the incident start to unfold.
'I just popped into work and noticed smoke coming from Bennett's doors so I dialled 999 and I stayed until 5pm,' he said.
Meanwhile, the manager of Bennetts, Mick Summers, was alerted to the fact that something was wrong. When he got to the scene, he was horrified to see smoke bellowing out of the repair shop. He said: 'We had a phone call saying that the burglar alarm was going off and then I found out the place was on fire – that's not what you expect on a Sunday afternoon.
'But at least no one was hurt. I haven't seen any flames since I have been here, just smoke. But the fire brigade have been fantastic, they have kept us up-to-date all throughout.
'But we have 16 cars belonging to customers in there and four courtesy cars – it's not going to be great ringing them and the insurers up Monday morning.'
As darkness fell, a group of people gathered to watch what was happening.
Chris Milsom, of nearby Clifford Burnham Close, said he had heard a 'big bang' while in his home.
'It was all over social media, so I thought I had better come and have a look what's happening,' he added.
At around 6pm, residents were told that they could return to their homes.
Katie Green, of Nuthall Crescent, said she was relieved the drama was over.
She was out with her with her two children aged 10 and seven when the drama unfolded and arrived back to see a fire engine in her drive.
She said: 'I couldn't believe what I saw – I was so scared I first thought our house was on fire.
'We were told by a fire officer that there was probably going to be an explosion. It was scary and it did worry the kids, but thankfully we were able to come back.'
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