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I was just seconds from losing business

PUBLISHED: 12:35 07 February 2009 | UPDATED: 12:58 03 July 2010

Charlie's Fish and Chip shop owner Kevin Toye surveys the damage to his business

Charlie's Fish and Chip shop owner Kevin Toye surveys the damage to his business

A FISH and chip shop owner believes he was seconds away from losing his business after fire ripped through the front of his shop, destroying microwaves, pie cabinets and the shop television.

A FISH and chip shop owner believes he was seconds away from losing his business after fire ripped through the front of his shop, destroying microwaves, pie cabinets and the shop television.

As he surveyed the devastation, Kevin Toye, who owns Charlie's Fish and Chips in Nelson Road North, Great Yarmouth, praised the actions of firefighters and said their quick response had prevented the flames from spreading to the rest of the shop and the fryers.

He said: “I phoned the fire brigade and they were here very quickly. Another couple of minutes and I could have lost the shop, the whole thing.

“I cannot thank the firefighters enough; they prevented it from being a lot worse.”

On Tuesday, his shop was still closed following the fire on Saturday as he anticipated a repair bill running into thousands of pounds, but he could not say when he would be able to reopen.

Mr Toye and his two part-time staff had been busy cooking all day when one of the employees reported a burning smell, so Mr Toye went to the back of his shop to check his extractor fan was working, which it was.

However, by the time he returned to the front of the shop, flames had started to appear underneath an air duct which carries away hot air produced by the fryers, so he switched off the gas supply and evacuated all the staff and two customers.

The 47-year-old, who has run the shop for four years, said the fire crews arrived “within a few minutes” of being called at 6.30pm to fight the blaze which peeled off plaster from the ceiling and blackened wall tiles.

The shop telephone was also destroyed while storerooms at the back suffered smoke damage.

The speed with which the blaze took hold had been exacerbated by the presence of flammable polystyrene food containers.

But mystery surrounds the cause of the fire because Mr Toye, who lives at Burgh Castle, said the ducts had been tested two weeks previously as part of maintenance checks and no problems were detected. There is also a gas pipe running parallel to the duct and he said a firefighter had told him the blaze could have been caused by debris falling off one of the pipes.

He expected the cost of the damage to run into thousands of pounds and was getting an insurance estimate for the work on Wednesday.

Fire service spokesman Martin Barsby said firefighters took an hour to extinguish the blaze and police were also called to close Nelson Road North while the fire crews dealt with the incident.

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