Picture Gallery: Investigation begins into Dereham town centre blaze

This is the scene of wreckage in a Dereham charity shop today following a huge overnight blaze.

The Pact animal charity shop in Norwich Street was completely wrecked in the fire which started at about 10pm.

Sixty firefighters tackled the blaze and the work is starting today to discover what may have caused it.

It was initially thought the blaze had spread to the Mariners fish and chip shop on the Cowper Road car park but the firefighters managed to contain the flames.

There is only a pre-fabricated wall between the Pact shop and the chip shop.

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There is huge praise in Dereham this morning for the work done by the fire crews.

The Pact shop is due to be redeveloped, along with the neighbouring former Lloyds TSB bank and Mariners as part of a �1m project by local businesman Basil Todd.

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Mr Todd was at the scene last night and returned there this morning.

He said: 'It has done a huge amount of damage. It is quite scary. I'm concerned the building is held up by three or four pieces of metal that hold up the ceiling in the Pact building. I'm scared it is going to collapse. The office part of the bank and the windows are absolutely blackened with smoke next to the stairwell where the roof was blown out.'

Mr Todd said he was 'devastated' about the blaze.

'The charity shop would have done quite well over the Christmas period. It is heartbreaking for them,' he added.

The businessman said the emergency services, who arrived at about 9.50pm, worked very quickly.

He added: 'When I arrived the flames were coming out of the roof quite strong.'

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