A fire caused by rubbish being deliberately set alight which spread to wheelie bins next to buildings
How this fire happened
This was a large retail premises, trading in country and agricultural goods.
Two commercial wheelie bins were placed outside at the northwest corner of the premises.
The fire was started by a person passing by, who ignited rubbish adjacent to the wheelie bin.
The fire spread to the wheelie bin and then the building under the exterior cladding.
Fire crews deployed to extinguish the fire from inside the property were withdrawn when stored munitions and fireworks started to explode.
Other considerations included a large quantity of chemicals and fertilisers in the premises.
The fire was eventually brought under control with the use of 6 fire appliances.
The effect it had
"I had built up a business over 30 years, supplying farms and the general public with animal medicines, fencing, country clothing, animal feed, ammunition and shotgun cartridges etc.
We are not only a country store but also a meeting place particularly for farmers who can lead a fairly solitary life.
A chat and a cup of coffee are good for both the customer and the business.
This was all abruptly brought to an end one Sunday evening when a rubbish bin awaiting collection on the Monday was set alight by a man that I would estimate to be in his late twenties.
The fire brigade attended with great speed and were on site when I arrived from home just in time to see the whole roof explode.
I think that there were about 10 appliances in attendance which was about the only consolation to witnessing the complete destruction of my long time business.
I was able to assist with the removal of various chemicals which could have been a risk. This was made possible by the calm professionalism of the officer in charge.
The skill of the fire brigade also saved the old market hall which was only feet away from my building.
The foam covering was incredible.
The only sign to this day is a slight bow in the plastic guttering while the RSJ stanchions were all bent and buckled with the heat. Very impressive!!
The following day came the realisation of what had happened.
I have never been involved with a fire before and to see the damage and smell the destruction was very upsetting.
Help was at hand. Many of our friends and customers turned up the next morning to offer help and support.
A friend immediately offered me temporary accommodation and my competitor in a nearby town opened an account for my customers to use at his store.
We were closed for one day while we organised a container to trade from temporarily on site and we opened for limited business on the Tuesday.
The local support that we were given was incredible both mentally and physically.
Two weeks later we moved to our temporary premises the other side of town where we stayed for a year.
Fortunately we had good insurance but even with their cooperation to get the business up and running again it was a very great mental strain.
Six months after the fire I went into the store and just burst into tears so I went out and tried again with the same result.
I had a couple of days off but when I tried again I realised that it would need longer to resolve this unseen result.
Fortunately my eldest son was able to take over and with the help of very loyal staff we got through this difficult period.
We moved back into our re built premises in the market and have re built the business.
A fire is a life changing experience but in my case also made me realise how many good people there are around us including the emergency services who were of such great help on that terrible night."
Most non domestic premises should have a fire risk assessment which is a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005.
This assessment should look at potential sources of ignition including arson.
Where possible, it is recommended that refuse containers and combustibles (including wooden structures) are kept locked and secured a minimum of 8 metres away from the property.
For an arson risk assessment checklist please see the attached leaflet produced by the Fire Protection Association.