Food and restaurant firm tells of ‘traumatic’ blaze tackled by 30 firefighters
PUBLISHED: 16:30 21 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:40 21 March 2020
A culinary business that is helping to feed families during the coronavirus crisis has said customers will still get their groceries despite a “traumatic” warehouse fire.
It broke out at a building belonging to Infusions Group at about 9.30am, causing internal damage to the ICE Cafe and cookery school at its site on the Rougham Industrial Estate near Bury St Edmunds.
The cafe would have been due to open at 10am, but has been forced to close its doors along with all other hospitality firms as the Government intensifies measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
MORE: All pubs, restaurants, clubs and gyms ordered to close to halt coronavirus spread
Infusions, which is also a supplier to hotels and restaurants including renowned Maison Bleue, Pea Porridge and 1921 in the town, had only just started a click and collect grocery service to help feed the public.
Many basic items have been in short supply or sold out in supermarkets due to panic buying over coronavirus fears.
Sarah Stamp, operations manager at Infusions, a local family business with 50 staff, wanted to assure members of the public they would get their grocery orders already placed - and new orders can be made - but to be patient as they may take a little longer.
ICE Cafe’s takeaway service has been suspended for the foreseeable future, however. Having taken takeaway orders for Mother’s Day, they are now having to call people to let them know they cannot deliver.
Mrs Stamp said: “Infusions is about the people, not the buildings and we are determined to survive, but we do need the support of the public.”
She added: “We are helping the community by feeding them because people are struggling to get what they need in the supermarkets. We need them to support us now.”
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The fire, which is believed to have begun in a tumble drier, was discovered when staff turned up for work this morning.
They were praised by the fire service for leaving the building and dialling 999 rather than trying to tackle the blaze themselves.
MORE: Suffolk restaurants, cafes and pubs offering takeaway and delivery during coronavirus
Mrs Stamp described what had happened as “very traumatic”, adding there would be a “significant” financial loss to the business, but added the main thing was everyone is okay.
“It’s terribly challenging and we were going to be facing difficult decisions anyway. This is not what any one of us wanted,” she said.
She said the restaurant and kitchen were “salvageable”, but needed to be deep cleaned, and the eatery would open when they were allowed to.
Station commander Henry Griffin, of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, praised the “swift action” of the fire crews who effectively managed to stop the fire spreading across the units.
“They were using quite aggressive firefighting tactics to do that,” he said. “Breathing apparatus was in use as well as jets for water.”
In total four fire appliances attended as well as the multi-star with an aerial ladder, with about 30 firefighters in total working at the scene.
Mrs Stamp said the fire service, which had managed to save the IT systems, had been “amazing”.
She said the restaurants they supply to would have already received their orders for Mother’s Day takeaway meals.
•To place an order for groceries with Infusions see here.