Fakenham community vows to fight back after fire devastation

Fire & Emergency news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
Fire & Emergency news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
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Community and business leaders in Fakenham have pledged to look to the future following the weekend fire that destroyed an iconic building in the heart of the town.

A total of 27 households and businesses were affected by the blaze which wrecked the Original Factory Shop building in Upper Market on Sunday.

Fire at the Original Factory Shop premises in Upper Market Fakenham ANL-140525-174357009

Fire at the Original Factory Shop premises in Upper Market Fakenham ANL-140525-174357009

Of those, three flats were also destroyed in the fire, while four businesses are still unable to trade because of safety fears as the shop building remains unsafe.

But traders and council officials say they are concentrating on getting the town back on its feet.

A meeting of business people, town and district councillors, which North Norfolk Council officials described as “very positive” was held in the town on Wednesday.

And, in a statement posted on its website the day after the blaze, Steve Hall and Keith Osborn, directors of the Fakenham Area Business Community (FABCOM), said: “We believe the people and businesses of Fakenham together comprise a strong community and will bounce back from this setback stronger than ever.

“Fabcom are ready to help in that process in any way that we are able.”

The town’s regular Thursday market will be held in the Bridge Street car park for the foreseeable future.

And traders who bank with HSBC, which is currently closed because of its proximity to the fire site, will be able to use the town’s Barclays branch temporarily.

The district council is also working with the Fakenham town council in a bid to find alternative premises for businesses who are currently unable to trade in their own branches.

At the height of the emergency, local Red Cross volunteers were called in to help residents who were forced to leave their homes.

Emergency response team leader Richard Fish said: “We were able to offer practical items such as phone chargers, so those affected could keep in touch with friends and family, hygiene packs so they could freshen up, as well as clean clothes for those who ran from their homes with nothing.”

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom Fitzpatrick added: “At times like this everyone has to pull together, and the council is always very grateful it can call on the Red Cross volunteers to support our response to emergencies.”

Investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing, though fire service chiefs say they cannot go onto the site because of the risk that the building may collapse.

A spokesman said yesterday: “The fire has so badly affected the structure of the building that it has been deemed unsafe to enter by the district council’s building engineers, so that means the investigation will focus on eyewitness accounts, visual material like photographs and other sources like media coverage.”

The last fire crews only left the site at 7pm on Tuesday, more than 54 hours after the blaze was first reported and officials say the investigation is likely to take some time to complete.