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Update and video: Workshop and HGVs damaged during fire at Lowestoft coachworks

18:09 10 April 2014

The fire at the Belle Coachworks site in Pinbush Road. Picture: Twitter user @BecclesSekkle

The fire at the Belle Coachworks site in Pinbush Road. Picture: Twitter user @BecclesSekkle

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Three HGVs and part of a roof have been badly damaged by a fire at a commercial vehicle workshop in south Lowestoft.

Smoke from the fire on the south Lowestoft industrial estate. Picture: Ashleigh HaynesSmoke from the fire on the south Lowestoft industrial estate. Picture: Ashleigh Haynes

About 50 firefighters from Lowestoft, Reydon and Beccles were called to Belle Coachworks in Pinbush Road on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate today.

At the height of the blaze, the thick black smoke could be seen from miles away.

The fire was reported shortly after 12.30pm and is believed to have started in the company’s front workshop.

One HGV was on fire and at least two more were damaged by the smoke and flames. Part of the workshop roof was also damaged during the incident, which was brought under control within 30 minutes.

Fire-fighters at the scene of the blaze at Belle Coachworks on the south Lowestoft industrial estate. Pictures: MICK HOWES.Fire-fighters at the scene of the blaze at Belle Coachworks on the south Lowestoft industrial estate. Pictures: MICK HOWES.

Workers were evacuated and no one was injured.

Part of Pinbush Road was closed for much of the afternoon, with firefighters remaining at the site until after 3pm.

Mark Labdon, group commander for Suffolk fire service, said there had been a number of welding cylinders and flammable substances on the premises, which had taken some time to move to safety.

He said it was too soon to say what had caused the fire and an investigation was now under way.

Fire-fighters at the scene of the blaze at Belle Coachworks on the south Lowestoft industrial estate. Pictures: MICK HOWES.Fire-fighters at the scene of the blaze at Belle Coachworks on the south Lowestoft industrial estate. Pictures: MICK HOWES.

Mr Labdon said it was clear that the roof of the workshop was no longer watertight and there might be a risk from falling debris.

“On arrival the crew were met with quite a severe fire developing within the coachworks itself affecting the lorries and associated equipment as well as the roof of the building,” he said. “The crews quickly got to work and the fire itself didn’t take a huge amount of time to bring under control. “Within 20 or 30 minutes it was safe and under control and our efforts were concentrated on the welding equipment, cylinders and flammable substances, which took some time to move out of the workshop itself.”

David Kett, workshop manager at Belle Coachworks, said the damaged HGVs belonged to different customers and were being worked on before the blaze broke out.

He said there had been a lot of black smoke when the fire started.

“You couldn’t even see the building for the smoke,” he said. “It was very worrying watching it. It looked a big fire at the time.”

Seven fire crews were called to the blaze – three from Lowestoft South, one each from Lowestoft North and Reydon and a fire service command unit and support appliance from Beccles.

The fire was under control at 1.46pm and the crews had left the scene by 3.10pm.

Belle Coachworks’ premises is a short distance from the redundant Wessex Foods factory in Hadenham Road which was destroyed by a huge blaze in July, 2010.

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