Norwich ham company returns to business after blaze

The boss of a Norwich ham factory destroyed in a fire last Wednesday praised the community for its 'brilliant support' ever since.

And despite the heartbreak of seeing his family's business go up in smoke, Edward Porter, 33, pledged to re-start operations on a new site later this week.

Mr Porter, general manager of Broadland Hams which was started by his father John 25 years ago, said: 'We are renting space at Little Melton Food Park and I am hoping to start operating by the middle of the week using rented machinery.

'We will be starting the production of sausages and will be dry curing all our back bacon.

'We won't be able to restart ham production straightaway because we won't have any cooking facilities. However, we will be sourcing ham from other companies to offer our customers.'

He said it was their customers' busiest period leading up to Christmas and he wanted to send a strong message they were back in business.

'We have supplied some of our customers' Christmas needs all the time we have been going,' he said.

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It has still not been revealed what caused the blaze which broke out in the factory in Burnett Road on the Sweetbriar industrial estate at about 1pm when staff were on their lunchbreak.

Mr Porter, who lives in Norwich, said: 'It is most likely to have been caused by an electrical fault or that the fire started in the smoke generator.'

He said it would take up to a year to rebuild the factory and did not rule out the possibility they might move to Little Melton permanently.

'Before the fire we were a successful, profitable company and we want that to continue,' he said.

He gave a pledge that all 25 staff would be kept on and said they would all be going to the new site later today to look round.

Although the factory was destroyed, offices were untouched so important paperwork had been saved.

Mr Porter, whose wife Katy is expecting their first child in March, said: 'We have had brilliant support since the fire. Lots of people have been phoning to offer their condolences and neighbouring companies on the industrial estate have offered us facilities for meetings and cups of tea. We started phoning our customers straightaway.'

Eight fire engines were called to the blaze but firefighters were unable to tackle to inferno from inside the building because of the presence of sandwich panels of polystyrene in the roof, a highly combustible material associated with firefighters' deaths in the past.

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