Photo Gallery: Rackheath explosion

An explosion which destroyed a cafe in Rackheath is thought to have been caused accidentally, according to fire chiefs.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the Rackheath Industrial Estate after reports of a suspected gas explosion at about 9.15pm at the KC Cafe.

The blast is believed to have been felt in and around several of the surrounding villages and initial reports from fire crews on the scene - who set up a cordon - indicated that debris from the blast was been spread over an area of some 8,000 square metres.

Residents in Little Plumstead, Blofield Heath and Postwick reported a boom while houses in Salhouse were shaken by the explosion.

The site will now be closed for the foreseeable future while checks are carried out on the building.


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People who work on the estate have been told not to go into work this morning and Anglia Bus has had to cancel a number of its services this morning.

It is not known how the explosion started but it is believed it was an accident.

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Phil Berry, station manager at Sprowston Fire Station, who was still at the scene today, said: 'Police cordoned off the area overnight and we've been working with different agencies, building surveyors and structural engineers to assess the damage.

'We've been trying to work with business owners to help them deal with the situation.

'Everyone is talking about a gas explosion - at the minute we don't know the cause but that is one we have to look at.

'We are conducting an investigation at the moment and then we will clear the debris. I would love to be able to say when we will reopen the industrial estate but at the moment I can't.'

Last night, three fire engines and Norfolk Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue vehicles were called to the scene.

Electricity board and gas board engineers were also called to make further checks and structural engineers also examined the buildings to see which of them were safe.

Police at the time said it appeared that a gas bottle exploded in a cafe premises.

A Salhouse resident, who felt the explosion from her home, said: 'The whole house shook, ornaments smashed, and it was so loud I thought a bomb had gone off. The blast shook the house so hard I fell off my chair.'

Fire crews worked into the night with utility companies to ensure services were safe and worked closely with the police to conduct an investigation to determine the cause.

He said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the explosion but confirmed the industrial estate was not served by mains gas.

Colin Chettleburgh, director of Broadland Catering Equipment, said that his business was 50 yards away from the scene of the explosion.

He said he was the last person to leave his premises at about 6pm and understood that the premises had not been damaged in the blast.

Mr Chettleburgh, who lives at Acle, said he heard the explosion at home where it rattled his patio doors.

Did you witness the explosion? Did you take any pictures? Call or email reporter David Freezer with your comments or photos on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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