April 21 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Staff at a town centre shop have spoken about the moment they realised a neighbouring store was on fire.
When firefighters were called to the blaze at Peacocks in Carr Street this morning other shops on the same side of the street had already evacuated thanks to the interlinked alarm systems.
But as part of the street was cordoned off by fire crews staff from nearby shops like Maplins faced the prospect of being prevented from re-entering their premises for over an hour.
On the other side of the street some people were asked to stay in buildings that were inside the cordon for their own safety.
However Ann Richardson and staff from Maplins were left sheltering in the doorways of other stores.
“It’s cold and wet and miserable,” said Ms Richardson, Maplins’ assistant manager.
“All the fire alarms are linked so we had to get out straight away.
“The first time it went off we couldn’t go back in until the centre manager says to go back in. So he said go back in after the first half an hour and then they went off again. Then it was confirmed it was a real fire.
“After the second one they (the fire service) were here in about five minutes, if that.
“The first alarm you think, ‘Oh it’s a test,’ but then you know by the length of time you’re outside that it’s not a test.”
Although at midday Ms Richardson and her colleagues were facing almost another hour outside the store at midday, coffee shops in the area had rallied round and were able to provide warm drinks for those left out in the cold while the incident was dealt with.