Diners evacuated at blaze restaurant

DINERS and staff fled to safety after a fire broke out above a Suffolk restaurant.

DINERS and staff fled to safety after a fire broke out above a Suffolk restaurant.

The blaze started about 7pm yesterday in a flat above the New Peach Bower Chinese restaurant and takeaway on The Hill in Wickham Market.

The alarm was raised by chimney-sweep Philip Hawes, who saw dense smoke billowing from the first-floor windows as he arrived to buy a takeaway.

Mr Hawes said: “I'd stopped near the junction and was going in to buy a meal but there was smoke coming out of the three top windows and also out of the roof, so I went in and told the staff it was on fire and that they should switch off the gas and electricity and get everyone out as quickly as they could.

“I couldn't get a signal on my mobile phone, so I went to the phonebox on The Hill and called the fire brigade. It's a good job the phonebox is still here.”

Carol Curling, Peach Bower manageress, said the fire appeared to have been in a bedroom area and started when there were six diners in the restaurant.

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She said: “The first we knew about it was when the fire doors began closing, but there was no smoke downstairs and no fire alarm, or not that I heard, and then people came in and said 'You've got a fire'.”

Retained fire crews from Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Framlingham dealt with the blaze.

David Atkinson, assistant divisional officer with the fire service, said a mattress, bed and laptop computer had been among the items damaged.

He said: "It was quite a serious fire. At this stage we believe an electrical fault could be to blame."

No-one was hurt in the blaze but the flat was badly damaged and smoke logged.