November 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 9, 2014
An Ipswich restaurant owner has spoken of his heartbreak after a blaze ripped through his popular town centre venue – but he vowed to bounce back.
Eight fire engines were called to The Townhouse Restaurant in Orwell Place following reports of a major kitchen blaze yesterday morning.
Around 20 firefighters battled the inferno which caused a “considerable amount of damage” to the restaurant. No injuries were reported.
Morgan Decker, owner of the restaurant, said two chefs raised the alarm when the kitchen filled with smoke minutes after the pair had “started work as normal”.
The 36-year-old opened the restaurant – his first business venture – in October 2010 after a career spent working in catering.
He said news of the fire “shocked” him and was a “real blow” after battling through the recession and proving a hit with customers.
“I’ve put everything into the restaurant,” Mr Decker said. “There was a lot of hard work and patience with family and friends.
“I’ve worked in catering my whole life across Suffolk and this was my first business of my own. We opened in the middle of the recession and have battled through to get here.
“Things were going well so this is a real blow. I would like to apologise to everyone who had made reservations.”
He said he expects the restaurant to be closed for a “minimum of two weeks”.
An investigation has been launched to establish the cause of the fire. It is believed to have erupted in the kitchen’s extractor fan at around 9.45am.
Group Commander Dave Pedersen, of the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the venue had suffered “substantial damage”.
He said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident.
The back of the building was reportedly severely damaged while aerial pictures revealed a large hole had been torn through the roof.
Fire crews managed to stop the flames from spreading to nearby buildings. It was brought under control by 11.10am.
Mr Decker, of Ipswich, praised the “brilliant work” of the firefighters before pledging to remain upbeat and rebuild his restaurant back to its former glory.
“We will come back from this,” the former Kesgrave High School pupil said.
“I would like to praise the chefs, who did everything correctly, and the firefighters for their brilliant work.
“I was in a meeting off-site when the chefs called me. It was a little bit shocking to say the least.
“We don’t know what precisely caused the fire. It seems like a random accident but it might have started in the fan extractor.”
Mr Pedersen said the fire took hold within the kitchen before spreading through the rest of the building.
“The fire caused a considerable amount of damage but we will carry out a full investigation,” he said.
Eye-witness Glenn Makin, 32, said firefighters “acted quickly” to douse the fire.
“They deserve some praise,” he said. “Let’s hope the restaurant gets back up and running as soon as possible.”
Another witness, who did not wished to be named, said: “It’s such a shame. It is a great restaurant. Good luck to them to get it back open as soon as possible.”