Businessman tells friends that fire which destroyed shop at Esso Services Station at Barton Mills today is ‘just devastating’

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - 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”.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

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 fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

The blaze is thought to have been started by an electrical fault in a fridge.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

Firefighters praised one of his colleagues for acting “very swiftly” when the fire broke out just before 7am today.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

Quick action to isolate fuel tanks stopped flames spreading further and out onto the forecourt.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant


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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.

Flashback to October 2016 when the newly refurbished shop at Esso Services, Barton Mills, re-opened

Flashback to October 2016 when the newly refurbished shop at Esso Services, Barton Mills, re-opened following an extensive refurbishment - Credit: Archant

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.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

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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.”

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

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.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

He added: “The fire became quite severe several minutes later and crews fought to bring it under control.”

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

The A11 was closed in both directions between the B1085 and A1065, Mildenhall but three lanes were reopened at 9.15am.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

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.

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fau

The fire at the Esso services at Fiveways, Barton Mills. The blaze broke out after an electrical fault in a fridge. Quick action by an on duty manager sealed off the petrol tanks. - Credit: Archant

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.

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