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.

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“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.

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