Villagers feared workshop explosion

RESIDENTS living close to the scene of a workshop blaze that led to a large swathe of their village being sealed off have told how they feared a major explosion.

Laurence Cawley

RESIDENTS living close to the scene of a workshop blaze that led to a large swathe of their village being sealed off have told how they feared a major explosion.

The emergency services were sent to the Fordham and Sons garage in High Street, Ixworth, on Monday afternoon.

A large area around the garage was sealed off because firefighters feared gas canisters inside the firm's workshop might explode.

Yesterday, staff at the firm were tidying up and getting the garage ready for reopening today.

Most of the site shows no trace of the fire. But the workshop in which the fire broke out was heavily damaged.

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At one stage, those living near the garage feared what would happen if there had been an explosion.

Will Rolton lives closest to the scene of the fire and when his boss at the nearby dairy told him there was a fire there, he rushed back home immediately.

Mr Rolton, who stood on a trailer and peered over the wall just feet from the flames, said: “On one of the ramps there was a wreck of a car. All the windows had been blown through.

“The flames were contained by the building. It was not hugely spectacular. But there were concerns because of the gas in there. And I think if the gas had gone up it would have taken out the whole building.”

The owner of Fordham and Sons garage was yesterday unavailable for comment, though workers for the firm said nobody had been injured and apart from the extensive damage to the workshop, just two cars had been destroyed.

Another nearby resident, who did not want to be named, told how his son heard a loud bang as the fire started.

He said: “When I first saw the smoke I thought it was either the residential home or our workshop. My son heard the explosion and it was a big bang.

“The police were there until well into the night. The electricity was cut off - but when we used to have paraffin you never would have thought about it. It was just one of those things. Inconvenience is nothing, safety everything.”

Fordham and Sons has been on its current site since the 1970s but has been a mainstay business in the village since 1920.

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