Fakenham fire: Five families made homeless

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Media captionTwo people were led to safety as fire broke out in the town centre at Fakenham

Five families have been made homeless by a fire which destroyed several buildings in the centre of a Norfolk market town, it has been revealed.

Three families have been taken in by relatives and two are being accommodated by North Norfolk District Council after the fire in Fakenham.

The fire is believed to have started on Sunday in the landmark Aldiss building occupied by a factory shop.

Fire inspectors are unable to get inside until they are sure it is safe.

Norfolk Fire Service said crews would be on site for the rest of the week to deal with any hot spots that could restart the blaze.

Image copyright Andy Hogan
Image caption The fire spread to a nearby parked car, an eyewitness said
Image copyright Sarah Wright
Image caption The fire has damaged several businesses and flats in the area

Tim Aldiss, whose family owns the building, said he was devastated about the loss.

He remembers running around the building as a child, it was where he began his business career and he had an office on one of the floors for several years.

"We want to rebuild as soon as possible and to restore the facade which carried the shop slogan of 'the People's Draper'.

"The work cannot start until we know the cause of the fire," he said.

Sorrow over loss

Mr Aldiss said he would be talking to conservation experts before deciding whether to restore the building exactly as it was or to rebuild using the Georgian brick style of the original shop.

But the building must be demolished once the investigation is completed, he said.

Many people in the town had expressed their sorrow at the loss of the building and he said he was sorry for those families that had lost their homes in the inferno.

The fire caused millions of pounds of damage, but no-one was seriously hurt although two people had to be led to safety after suffering the effects of breathing in smoke, firefighters said.

Image copyright Arnold Pistorius
Image caption Nearby homes were evacuated, Norfolk Fire Service said
Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption The town centre with the landmark Aldiss building in white before the fire struck
Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption The damage to the town centre after the fire showing the gutted Aldiss building and nearby homes
Image copyright Shane Hyde
Image caption Eyewitness Shane Hyde said smoke could be seen all the way from Litcham

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