Shop reopens following Harleston blaze

An independent bookmakers in Harleston was back in business yesterday after reopening following a devastating fire.

The Harleston Turf shop suffered extensive damage last July as a result of a blaze that destroyed a row of terraced flats and closed shops in the town's main high street.

The bookies opened for the first time in 14 months yesterday following the completion of repair work at the listed building in the Thoroughfare.

The bookmakers shop was one of three businesses that were forced to shut because of the blaze which ripped through first floor flats last year.

Manager Peter Lawrence said it had been 'heartbreaking' to see the shop gutted by smoke and water damage.

'The fire started a few shops along and because of the age of the timber building it spread very rapidly and there was thick smoke coming in and it was a case of getting out before someone got hurt. The damage was extensive,' he said.

The shop was able to reopen following repairs to the roof and upstairs flat and has received a new lick of paint.

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Mr Lawrence added: 'It is wonderful to be back and it has been a very frustrating time for everyone. We never had any doubts about coming back. We have a tremendously loyal customer base and people have been tremendously supportive before and after the fire.'

Work is continuing to restore the other shops along the Thoroughfare, which were more badly damaged during the blaze that was tackled by more than 50 firefighters.