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Restaurant owner speaks of fire rescue

PUBLISHED: 10:16 27 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:34 30 June 2010

A Great Yarmouth restaurant owner had to be dramatically rescued from his seafront business after a severe blaze damaged his refurbished kitchen yesterday afternoon.

A Great Yarmouth restaurant owner had to be dramatically rescued from his seafront business after a severe blaze damaged his refurbished kitchen yesterday afternoon.

Fred Bennett, 60, and his wife were rescued from the first floor living area above Gilfreds restaurant in Regent Road by firefighters using a ladder.

Dozens of firefighters attended the fire, which resulted in dense plumes of smoke drifting along the seafront and left nearby businesses and residents closing their windows.

The restaurant was closed at the time of the blaze and it is thought it may have been started by some oil in the kitchen where the owner had spent several thousands pounds to refurbish in time for the summer season.

Mr Bennett said he tried to escape down stairs to the kitchen area after he heard the smoke alarm but had to shut the fire exit after being beaten back by the thick yellow smoke rising from the basement.

He said: “As I opened the door with the smoke alarm going off all I could see was grey and yellow smoke. I could not hear any burning, there was just smoke.

“There was no way I could walk down the stairs. I had to close the door, it was that thick."

The fire started at 4.15pm and the scale of the incident led to the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service sending eight fire engines from across Norfolk and Lowestoft.

The fire was quickly put out but dense plumes of lingered in the air for at least an hour and half after the blaze.

Smoke was so dense it could be seen all the way from Yarmouth town centre.

The firefighter in charge of the incident group manager Guy McCurley said: “We had a severe fire in the ground floor kitchen area and three floors have been badly smoke-damaged.

“The conditions were punishing for the firefighters who went in the kitchen as there was burning liquid, a chance of re-ignition and heavy smoke.

“Two people were brought down from the first floor.

“The firecrews should be praised for the way they approached the fire and how quickly they responded to it.

“We believe the fire may have been caused by some oil in the kitchen area and we will launch an investigation into how it started and how the owners were alerted.”


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