PHOTO GALLERY AND UPDATE: Discovering cause of fire at Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre will take ‘some considerable time’

Investigators looking into the cause of blazing fire which ripped through a well-respected family business in Aylsham said it would take 'some considerable time'.

More than 70 fire fighters tackled the inferno yesterday (Wednesday) at Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre just off the A140, on Burgh Road, as the devastated owner looked on.

An investigator into the cause of the fire visited the site today.

Senior media and public affairs officer Martin Barsby said: 'It could take some considerable time to carry out and finish investigations because the structure is unsound we cannot get in.

He added that evidence gathering had started.

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This morning station manager and incident commander John Baker and a crew from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service continued to watch the building, which was still smouldering at 9am this morning, until 11.40am.

And with the smell of smoke still fresh in the air this morning local residents and business owners were reeling from the shock.

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Andrew Westwood, 41, and Trudi Bradley, 41, are co-owners of Heatcraft Anglia based next door to Aylsham Bathroom and Kitchen Centre.

Mr Westwood said he saw the fire from the Aylsham housing estate where he lives and that it could also be seen from the recreation ground.

'The fire was just intense and you could see the owner was pretty upset,' he said.

'The flames went above the roof line to the top of the trees you can see behind the building. I could also see a really dense smoke and then the flames came beyond the smoke.'

They were currently waiting to see what impact the fire would have on their own business as they kept materials on the field surrounding the affected building.

Mr Westwood added: 'None of our buildings or vehicles were impacted.'

The blaze started just 30 minutes after staff locked up the centre at about 5pm and went home. It was reported by a passer-by who alerted the emergency services after spotting smoke coming from the building.

Mr Baker said 'thick blue' smoke could be seen coming from the 60 x 40m building and that crews were unable to go inside because of concerns the building could collapse.

At the height of the blaze eight appliances were in attendance, plus the environmental protection unit, two water carriers, the aerial ladder platform and support appliances, and the control unit from Wymondham.

The roof of the building also contained asbestos but Mr Baker said they were 'lucky' as the direction of the wind was favourable.

Farmer David Browne, who lives nearby, said: 'I heard the roof snapping from my farm and then I saw the black smoke. I came to see if I could help. It appeared to me that the crews' biggest problem was getting enough water to the scene.'

Rachel and Matthew Hales saw the smoke from their home in Tuttington and they joined a small crowd of onlookers on the A140 last night.

Mr Hales said: 'We came out to see what was happening because it is a local company that employs local people. It is an old-fashioned family business that has been going for years.

'You feel for the people working there.'

Police and ambulance crews also attended and there we no casualties.

Owner Justin Hindry did not want to comment at this time.

On the company's website they have advised people with any concerns to call the helpline on 07532 444 333.

? To view a photo gallery of the damage caused to the building please click on the link in the top right-hand corner.

? To view a photo gallery of the fire please follow the link in the top right-hand corner.

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