Businessman tells friends that fire which destroyed shop at Esso Services Station at Barton Mills today is ‘just devastating’
- Credit: Archant
Businessman Phil Withers has told friends that the fire that gutted the franchise services shop he runs at Barton Mills as “just devastating”.
Mr Withers, who runs Withers Holdings that runs both the Barton Mill shop and a second Esso shop in Field Road, Mildenhall, told them: “We’ve lost everything”.
The blaze is thought to have been started by an electrical fault in a fridge.
Firefighters praised one of his colleagues for acting “very swiftly” when the fire broke out just before 7am today.
Quick action to isolate fuel tanks stopped flames spreading further and out onto the forecourt.
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When the crews arrived, they were faced with a developing fire which Nigel Vincent, station manager at Bury St Edmunds and who was the incident commander, said became severe within a few minutes.
Mr Vincent said: “We had the call just after 7am to what was reported as a small fire in a shop area of a service station. The shop worker acted quickly and isolated the forecourt using the isolation switch and evacuated the building.
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“When the first crew from Mildenhall turned up they were faced with a well-developed fire within the shop that had broken through the roof.”
He said more crews were called and they had to tackle the fire from the outside as it was too dangerous to go inside and it was possible the roof could collapse.
He added: “The fire became quite severe several minutes later and crews fought to bring it under control.”
The A11 was closed in both directions between the B1085 and A1065, Mildenhall but three lanes were reopened at 9.15am.
Although the fire was under control by 10.46am, three fire crews were still on the scene as of 4.15pm Saturday afternoon, including a fire investigation unit.
A structural engineer is also on scene to look at the building.
The shop was open at the time and there were customers inside but they were all evacuated and nobody was hurt.
It is believed the fire may have started at a fridge unit.
“At the moment, the cause is undetermined,” Mr Vincent said. “A fire investigation officer has been asked to attend. It looks like the fire, from the witness’s account, started behind a sandwich refrigeration unit.
“He acted very swiftly and isolated the fuel tanks and the fire was confined to the shop.”
It was only last October that Mr Withers was celebrating the re-opening of the shop following a massive revamp of the site by Esso.