“I was there when the roof collapsed and how it missed four firefighters was a miracle” - Great Yarmouth mayor witnessed blaze
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The Mayor of Great Yarmouth has said the blaze in a road he considers 'the pearl of the town' could not have come at a worse time - in the peak of the holiday season.
Malcolm Bird, who represents Great Yarmouth Central ward on the borough council, said: 'This has come at a very bad time for the town. These are the main weeks of the summer and this is when we do our business. Regent Road is the pearl of the town and to have this happen is awful.
'There are 70 or 80 businesses in the indoor market and the people who work there have woken up this morning to find they have not got jobs to go to. The loss of jobs is a big blow.
'It's such a shame as there has been a lot of work done over the past 18 months to revamp the bowling alley and the indoor market. Phil Thompson has done such a good job there and this will be such a shock to him.'
UKIP councillor Mr Bird said he was woken up in the early hours when he heard what he described as 'a big bang'. He said: 'I watched from my window and when I went down at 5am I realised there were so many properties affected.
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'I was there when the roof collapsed and how it missed four firefighters was a miracle. They were just feet away from it.
'The firefighters have done a marvellous job in containing it. I have not seen anything like that since the Britannia Pier burned down and I am so pleased that there has been nobody injured.'
Mr Bird said he hoped the town would rally round to give support to those who have lost their livelihoods.
But he said he feared rebuilding work could have an impact on Regent Road, the key link between the town centre and the seafront, for some time.
He said: 'It's clearly going to be a blot on the landscape for some time before they can get it sorted out. I just hope that it will not be too long before it can be restored.'
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said that it was 'tragic' to see the scale of the fire, but said Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and the town's police deserved thanks for their efforts.
He said: 'It looks like the firefighters managed to protect the buildings around it. We don't know what caused it yet, but the response from the emergency services has been phenomenal and they deserve huge credit. It's a good example of the fire service working with the police to keep the area safe. They have excelled themselves.
'There has been no loss of life, but there has been a loss of livelihood for those traders and my heart goes out to them.
'Most, if not all of them, will be people for whom the income from those businesses is their livelihood. Many of them will have lost their stock. There is no getting away from the fact they have lost their businesses and that is a tragic thing.'