Staff praised for quick-thinking response as fire tore through Norwich shop

Fire at McColl's shop on Colman Road.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Fire at McColl's shop on Colman Road.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Quick-thinking staff at a local newsagents have been praised for their actions in evacuating the shop and isolating the fire which tore through the building on Colman Road.

Fire at McColl's shop on Colman Road.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Fire at McColl's shop on Colman Road.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Six or seven customers had been shopping at around 7.40pm when wisps of smoke emerged from behind a wine chiller at the McColls store.

After the shop had been cleared, and a man living in the upstairs maisonette had escaped, fire and smoke damaged the entire stock.

Investigations were continuing on Saturday morning with the most likely cause of the fire an electrical fault in the wine chiller.

David Bett, station manager at Wymondham HQ, said: 'The business is not viable now and won't be for some time. About 10 to 15pc of the shop has been damaged by fire, and the rest has been damaged by smoke and will not be able to be salvaged. The entire stock is gone, and there is a significant loss in terms of value.

Fire at McColl's shop on Colman Road.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Fire at McColl's shop on Colman Road.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

'The maisonette upstairs was occupied at the time. The occupant was alerted to the fire quite quickly and performed a self-rescue.'

Two members of staff sprang into action when concerns were raised by the customers in the store, which limited the damage done.

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'The staff systems are absolutely fantastic and I have praised them to their boss by saying their actions had been exemplary,' added Mr Bett.

'It was business as usual at the time with customers in the shop. The store manager at the time overheard a customer saying, 'can you smell smoke?'

'He immediately went to investigate, and those customers were in front of the chiller units. He noticed the lights were off and there were wisps of smoke coming out of the back. He then isolated those two units and went a step further to isolate the air conditioning unit. By this time the conditions had deteriorated quite quickly, and the other member of staff had been evacuating customers to a place of safety - there had been six or seven there at the time.

'The crews then arrived within three or four minutes, and were confronted with a significant and developing fire. Our response was to approach from the rear and front of the premises and confirm if there was any life risk.

'When the materials that were alight are alight, they generate flammable gases which could have ignited, so part of our tactics were to stay in a place of relative safety. Smoke was issuing from the front and rear, and also from the side via an extractor fan.

'We spend an awful lot of time training for events like this which are thankfully quite rare.'

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