Firms assess damage after major fire

COMPANIES were continuing to pick up the pieces yesterday following a major blaze which destroyed most of a business park at the weekend. The fire struck the Cowdray Centre in Colchester in the early hours of Saturday morning, hitting nearly 80 businesses in the large building.

COMPANIES were continuing to pick up the pieces yesterday following a major blaze which destroyed most of a business park at the weekend.

The fire struck the Cowdray Centre in Colchester in the early hours of Saturday morning, hitting nearly 80 businesses in the large building.

Many of the companies affected by the fire face an uncertain future and Colchester Borough Council and other businesses in the town have rallied round to offer support.

The building has now been boarded up, leaving many businesses unable to access equipment which is vital for their work.


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An emergency response pack has been prepared with lists of office spaces and industrial units available on short-term leases.

Firefighters and police are continuing to investigate the cause and have been studying CCTV for clues and, though it is not thought to be suspicious, arson cannot yet be ruled out.

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A fire service spokeswoman admitted that the extent of the damage meant it might not be possible to discover where the blaze started.

Nigel Myers, enterprise manager at Colchester Borough Council, said: “I was quite happy and pleased to hear that other businesses were offering their help.

“It is too early to say what the long term effect will be on some of the businesses, they are coming to terms with what they have to do and we are helping them through.

“We have no precedent for this in Colchester, we have never had an episode on this scale before, it is new to everyone and we will have to learn from this.”

He said although larger businesses often had continuity plans for emergencies, it was not something smaller companies normally prepared for.

Later this week business owners are being invited to a meeting to discuss the future of the site and get help and guidance where needed.

Paul Herrington, managing director of property for F & C Property Asset Management, which owns the site, said it was too early to say what would happen to the centre.

He said: “We have got a team working on there at the moment - the fire brigade has not released the site yet following their own investigation.

“We have property managers and engineers looking at what the damage is and how to move forward from there.”

The fire broke out at 2am on Saturday and teams of firefighters worked non-stop before the fire was put out at 10.20am.

Two firefighters fell ill at the scene and were treated by paramedics for nausea and heat exhaustion.

n Anyone wanting more information about the emergency business packs can contact Mr Myers on 01206 282878.

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