VIDEO and PHOTO GALLERY: Investigation into major blaze at Rackheath Industrial Estate, near Norwich

An investigation is under way into the cause of a huge fire which seriously damaged a building on the Rackheath industrial estate near Norwich yesterday.

An investigation is under way into the cause of a huge fire which seriously damaged a building on the Rackheath industrial estate yesterday.

At its height 60 firefighters and 13 crews were on scene at PHS Datashred, based in Osborne House, Wendover Road, which shreds documents on behalf of other companies.

The 'deep-seated' fire caused serious structural damage to the building, including the roof, and the back of it collapsed.

The building had only recently been constructed and it is believed to have contained about 200 tonnes of paper.


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It was the second incident on the estate in just over a year, as KC Cafe was destroyed in a gas explosion in January last year.

Yesterday, the entrance to the industrial estate was closed to all but emergency vehicles.

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Smoke could be seen for miles around and eyewitnesses said flames could be seen licking through the windows of the large two-storey building.

PHS Datashred is understood to employ about 20 to 30 staff who were kept behind a cordon after escaping from the building before the fire brigade arrived.

A spokesman for the firm said that it had followed all correct procedures and processes following the incident.

The spokesman added: 'We are grateful for the fire brigade's help in containing the problem. Our primary concern is for the health and safety of any people affected, and we are pleased to report that there have been no injuries in connection with the incident.'

Business owners on the estate said firefighters told them that the task of extinguishing the blaze was interrupted when the water ran out.

The high volume pump from Thetford was brought in to provide extra water to tackle the blaze.

A spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said an investigation would be carried out into the cause of the blaze, which was reported just before 8.50am, and was still smouldering at the end of the day.

Next door to PHS Datashred are the handrail manufacturers BA Systems. Robert Hynd, pictured far left, joint owner of the company, said he was in a sales meeting when they realised there was a commotion outside.

He said when he got outside he could see PHS Datashred was on fire, and one of the firefighters told him that they were struggling to get enough water pressure from hydrants.

Danny Betts, pictured left, who manages Friars Pride Ltd suppliers, which is based behind PHS Datashred, said he understood the fire had started in the middle of the building.

He said: 'My first concern was to make sure that all my guys were safe. We were told that the fire brigade had run out of water, which had held up their work. We thought that the water had been cut off, initially.

'I think they will have to take down the building and rebuild it. It feels as if we are jinxed at this estate.'

Anglian Water is responsible for the supply of water to the estate. A spokesman said: 'The infrastructure that supplies this water is built and maintained to meet the needs of the businesses there. We have a very good working relationship with the fire brigade, and support them where possible to help them tackle the emergencies they deal with.

'Altering pressure in the network is rarely appropriate in situations like this, as to do so increases the risk of bursts on the network, which could ultimately cut off water supplies in the area.'

Have you got a story for the Evening News? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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