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Owner says ‘life’s work’ has been destroyed in high street blaze

PUBLISHED: 07:11 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:16 07 February 2020

Dennis Brooks, 68, has owned the building of Beijing Diner since 1992. Picture: Marc Betts

Dennis Brooks, 68, has owned the building of Beijing Diner since 1992. Picture: Marc Betts

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A business owner has told how he has lost his life’s work after a fire gutted his building.

Fire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Beijing Diner, a Chinese restaurant on Watton High Street, went up in flames at 2.37pm on Thursday after a fire reportedly broke out in the kitchen.

Nine fire crews and more than 20 firefighters fought the blaze at the restaurant for several hours. The fire spread throughout the roof damaging three businesses inside the building.

Dennis Brooks, 68, has owned the building since 1992. He said he is still in shock and had recently completed refurbishments to Cookies Cafe and Casino Games, two businesses he is a part of that use the building.

He said: "I first heard about it at 2.30pm and came straight down from Ashill.

Fire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFire fighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"I don't know what happened but all I know is it started upstairs, I assume in the kitchen. The upstairs is Beijing Diner, I have the cafe downstairs which I franchise out which is Cookies and the arcade next door which I run, it's affected all of my businesses.

"The damage is horrendous, It's my life's work, my life has gone into those businesses. It will hit me tomorrow when I look at it all. I don't know what to do next."

People were advised to avoid the area and close all nearby windows and doors by Norfolk fire and rescue service at the time.

While no one is understood to have been injured, witnesses have told how they heard people screaming as several retail units went up in flames.

Firefighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFirefighters at the fire in Watton's High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"The building was completely refurbished," Mr Brooks added, "I'd just reopened the cafe two weeks before Christmas, we were just getting into the swing of it.

"We had completely refit it, refurbished the arcade with all new machines in there but I won't know the damage until I look in there, I don't think it's going to be very good. All of it will be damaged by the fire or water damage.

"What can you say? At least no-one was hurt."

It is reported the flames went out at around 5pm, although smoke was still visible.


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