Huge fire tears through town centre shop
- Credit: While There is Light
Firefighters have tackled a major blaze in the historic quarter of King's Lynn town centre.
Crews from across West Norfolk have been battling the blaze, in a charity shop near the Saturday Market Place.
Hundreds gathered to watch as crews use hose reels and aerial ladders to battle the blaze in the smoke-logged High Street. Police have cordoned off the area.
Nobody is believed to have been injured in the fire, which broke out around 10.30am in the store room of the Sue Ryder shop.
Peter Rowe, Norfolk Fire Service incident commander, said 40 firefighters and 11 fire engines were called to the scene, as well as a control vehicle from Wymondham.
He said there was significant structural damage to the terraced shop and that crews will remain on scene until at least 5pm.
Station manager Bob Ayres, from North Lynn Fire and Rescue Station, added: 'The fire started, we believe in the electrics in the store room. Shop staff tried to tackle it but couldn't contain it.
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'We've evacuated the area as a precaution. Because of the age and construction of the building we had concerns about spread but we contained the fire.'
A Sue Ryder spokesman confirmed the fire began in their store and that an investigation was under way to determine the cause.
He added: 'Thankfully all staff, volunteers and customers were evacuated from the shop and unharmed by the incident.'
'We do not yet know the full extent of the damage costs, and will be looking in due course into ways to make up funds lost due to the closure of our shop on King's Lynn High Street.'
A section of the roof has collapsed and firefighters are using aerial platforms to determine the extent of damage to neighbouring shops.
Some 35 staff were evacuated from nearby Goldings and the Market Bistro. Proprietor Lucy Golding said: 'It started around 10.30am. I phoned the fire brigade and they said there were six vehicles on the way.
'We've got extensive smoke damage, it's just a matter of wait and see. The fire chief's going to take us in when it's safe to have a look, we'll make a judgement then.'
Mrs Golding said upstairs rooms at the pub had only recently re-opened after being totally refurbished.
Joanna Bandola, 24, who lives in a flat in the High Street just a short distance from the fire, said she had been asleep when the fire broke out.
She said her neighbour had banged on the door shouting for her to get out at around 10.30am.
'I was sleeping after a night shift,' she said. 'So I got out, I just had my bathrobe on.
'I saw a huge fire, everybody was evacuated, I was scared.'
She was told by police she would not be allowed back into her home until later this evening. 'My flat is supposed to be okay but I have left everything. I am not worried much but I am cold.'
A number of shops were evacuated, including Artertons, BA Insurance, Deck of Cards, and the Baker Lane car park behind the charity shop was closed.
Nick Drew, director of High Street-based IBA Insurance said staff realised something was happening when they saw people gathering in the street outside.
One woman watching from the crowd, Gillian Tyler, said she received a call from her partner who was in the town when the fire took hold.
'I was worried in case it spread,' she said. 'I haven't seen anything like this happen before in the town. It is really bad.'
'Proper horrendous, a nightmare,' Michael Gane, 28, from West Lynn, said.
'I can't believe it, it looks awful,' added Eleanor Taylor 27.
At the height of the blaze smoke almost obscured the twin towers of nearby Lynn Minster.
West Norfolk council said tonight's meeting was being postponed because of the fire.
A spokesman said: 'Due to road and car park closures as a result of the fire at the Sue Ryder shop on the High Street, there are some access issues.
'It is not clear when the roads and car park might be reopened. The agenda for this meeting will be added to the agenda for meeting on November 29, 2018.'