21 June 2020 12:36
Image copyright Lee Smith Image caption Budgens had been in Holt for the past 35 years and was described as being a "lifeline" in the town A fire has ripped through a town's only supermarket. Budgens in Holt, Norfolk, was engulfed in flames at 21:15 BST on Saturday, sending up a plume of smoke which was visible 10 miles away. The supermarket is run by a family behind another Holt store, Bakers and Larners, and has been a key employer in the town for 35 years. North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said: "I am horrified and struggling to come to terms with what we are all witnessing. "To all my friends, the staff and Baker family - whatever I can do to support the community get through this, I will.
Image copyright Lee Smith Image copyright Darren Bunn Image caption People gathered to watch the fire after seeing the plume of smoke and photos on social media Image copyright Darren Bunn Image caption The fire did not spread to neighbouring buildings Image caption The fire service said it expected to remain on site throughout Sunday The shop, which contained a post office, was closed when the fire broke out and the cause is not yet known. 'Lifeline to town' Police urged people to keep away from the Kerridge Way store as crowds gathered in the car park and neighbouring streets. Social media manager Jono Read, who lives in Holt, said: "The sound of the parts of the building collapsing as the fire spread will stay with me for some time. "Luckily the fire crews were able to get it under control to avoid the spread, but it's absolutely devastated the store, and left the community in shock." Mr Read has set up a crowdfunding page to to thank staff for their help during lockdown "and over the many years the store has been around". "The staff at both the shop and the Post Office have worked so hard to provide a lifeline to our town," he added.
"They've kept shelves stocked, provided local deliveries to the elderly and most vulnerable, and worked around the clock to see this north Norfolk town through the good times and the bad." Mr Baker, who grew up in Holt, said he would work with North Norfolk District Council "as a matter of urgency" to establish what support was needed. "Over the pandemic the staff have been phenomenal supporting the community," he added. Norfolk Fire Service said it expected to remain at the site all day on Sunday. Shocking sight of smouldering remains of Budgens at Holt Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Copyright: Archant 2020 This is the shocking sight greeting the people of Holt this morning, after a fierce blaze destroyed the town's Budgens supermarket. Share Email this article to a friend To send a link to this page you must be logged in. The popular store is no more than a charred shell - having been reduced to ruins by fire in a couple of hours on Saturday evening. The town was shrouded in appropriately dismal grey cloud, and rain drizzled down, adding to the smoke and steam rising from the Kerridge Way scene. The site is cordoned off, with a handful of police and firefighters at the scene to dampen down and monitor the situation. Tony Cooney, who lives on nearby Carriage Way and works at Budgens, said he heard a smoke alarm at about 9pm, but "thought it was a car alarm". Tony Cooney, who witnessed the fire at Budgens in Holt, and works in the store Photo: Denise Bradley Tony Cooney, who witnessed the fire at Budgens in Holt, and works in the store Photo: Denise Bradley He said he then noticed smoke, went to fetch his mobile phone, and by the time he returned "the fire had spread rapidly". He said he thought it had spread from the "laundrette end" of the building, adding: "It's so sad, in the year Bakers and Larners is celebrating 250 years. A lot of elderly people rely on Budgens for deliveries." Earlier, MP Duncan Baker told of his "devastation" over the fire that has destroyed his family's Budgens supermarket in Holt. North Norfolk MP Mr Baker, whose family owns Budgens, Bakers and Larners and CT Baker, said on Twitter: "I am horrified to see the scenes of devastation in Holt tonight and understandably am struggling to come to terms with what we are all witnessing. "To all my friends, the staff and Baker family - whatever I can do to support the community get through this, I will. The Kerridge Way store was completely destroyed by the fire that broke out after 9pm on Saturday. Crowds gathered to witness the scene as the flames tore through the supermarket. Rodney Smith, town mayor, said: "Holt Town Council is shocked and saddened by the terrible news regarding the devastating fire at Budgens, Holt. We thank the emergency services for their swift response. "Our thoughts and prayers are with CT Baker, the Budgens staff and everybody affected by the fire." A drone captures Budgens of Holt of fire Photo: O Birch A drone captures Budgens of Holt of fire Photo: O Birch He added: "This devastating fire couldn't have happened at a worse time for the town as the recovery from Covid-19 was just starting and a great deal of effort was taking place to promote that Holt is Open, and there were the first signs of optimism. "The Budgens Team were providing much needed help and support through food deliveries to the vulnerable and those who are shielding in the town and surrounding communities. Budgens hosted the only post office in the town. "Holt Town Council will be working with all partners to quickly put measures in place to provide support to the town and those most affected in the community. We ask that people stay away from the areas to allow the emergency services to carry out their work." Crews from across North Norfolk tackled the blaze, which was reported at 9.15pm on Saturday. As of Sunday morning, there were four crews still on the scene. A spokesperson for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters will be on site "for quite some time." The store was closed when the fire broke out as, due to coronavirus, it closes earlier at 6pm. Budgens in Holt has gone up in flames Picture: Enjoy Holt More Budgens in Holt has gone up in flames Picture: Enjoy Holt More The store housed the only post office in Holt. Fire fighters still at work after the massive blaze Saturday evening <20.06.2020> at Budgens of Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Fire fighters still at work after the massive blaze Saturday evening <20.06.2020> at Budgens of Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Fire at Budgens in Holt Picture: Lee Smith Fire at Budgens in Holt Picture: Lee Smith