Jobs safe despite major factory fire

SEVENTY workers at a sweet factory have been promised that their jobs and wages are safe after it was hit by a devastating fire.It was still unclear yesterday how much of the Sultan's factory in Thetford, which suffered major structural damage in the blaze, could be saved.

SEVENTY workers at a sweet factory have been promised that their jobs and wages are safe after it was hit by a devastating fire.

It was still unclear yesterday how much of the Sultan's factory in Thetford, which suffered major structural damage in the blaze, could be saved.

Sultan's sales director, Kemal Darbaz, said he hoped the family firm could recover from Thursday's fire and resume production as soon as possible.

“I'm devastated. We are hoping we will not have to start again from scratch, but the building is still not safe and we haven't been allowed in to see the extent of the damage yet,” he added.


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“Our employees are in complete shock. All our staff have been assured they will be given full pay in the meantime.”

More than 120 firefighters from Suffolk and Norfolk fought the blaze that tore through the London Road factory.

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Piles of molten sugar were still burning yesterday morning, while machinery in the production area had been completely destroyed.

Sultan's has been in Thetford for more than a decade and produces 2,500 tons a year of Turkish delight, glacé fruits, ginger and other products, supplying all the UK's major supermarket chains.

After seeing the factory in ruins, Mr Darbaz, whose uncle owns the business, said the 70-strong workforce would keep their jobs, while work to restore the building and restart production would begin as soon as possible.

He added both the factory's fire and burglar alarms had been triggered just before 11.30pm on Thursday. An investigation is under way to establish the cause of the blaze.

“We can't speculate on what could have caused the fire. The steel structure of the main production hall seems intact, but the other side of the plant looks devastated,” said Mr Darbaz.

“Our main focus is to get the business up and running again as soon as possible.”

Divisional officer Chris Boulton, of Norfolk fire brigade, said the blaze had caused the roof of the factory to cave in and inflicted severe damage.

“We were fighting the flames using jets from 11.30pm to 5am, when we felt we had more control over it and it would not spread to neighbouring buildings,” he added.

“But at about 6am we found acetylene cylinders inside and they can be quite dangerous. Since then we have been using sprays to cool the cylinders and we will be on site for at least another 24 hours.”

David Fitt, head of Breckland Council's building control department, said the fire-hit factory did not pose an immediate danger to the surrounding buildings or members of the public.

“Parts of the office areas have escaped without much damage at all, but areas of the production halls seem to have been totally destroyed,” he added.

“It is still burning inside, but once it is fully extinguished, we will be looking at ways of making the building safe. Breckland Council will obviously assist as much as they can to help the company get back into business.”

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