Family business devastated by blaze
MACHINERY with an estimated value of £250,000 was destroyed in the early hours of today in a fire at a timber merchant in Bromeswell near Woodbridge.Several hours after the fire, which started just before midnight, a sawdust pit at Nelson Potters Mill in Orford Road was still smouldering as the fire service tried to establish what caused the blaze.
MACHINERY with an estimated value of £250,000 was destroyed in the early hours of today in a fire at a timber merchant in Bromeswell near Woodbridge.
Several hours after the fire, which started just before midnight, a sawdust pit at Nelson Potters Mill in Orford Road was still smouldering as the fire service tried to establish what caused the blaze.
Ten fire crews from across Suffolk were called to the timber merchants to tackle the blaze which destroyed one third of a 100 metre by 50 metre building, housing a large bandsaw mill.
Director, Colin Potter, 46 said: "We've lost the bandsaw mill which was used to cut up logs up to three feet in diameter which will cost around £80,000 to replace.
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"We've also lost saw docking equipment which I would estimate is worth around £150,000 and three or four pads of timber. In total I think we're looking at £250,000."
Mr Potter, who along with brother Robert, runs the family-owned business, originally started by their father Nelson in the late 1960s, said he first knew of the fire when his burglar alarm went off in his nearby house.
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He explained: "The fire also damaged an external electricity transformer which had the effect of cutting the power to my house and triggered the burglar alarm.
"You could see the red glow of the timber mill from far away and I instantly thought 'Oh God, it's the mill'. As I drove closer to the mill a man said it was Nelson Potters mill on fire and said he had already called the fire brigade.
"I don't know who he was but I would like to thank him. The fire brigade arrived within five to six minutes and were brilliant."
The damage to the electricity generator short means the timber mill is today without power and they are waiting for back up generators to restore it.
Mr Potter said: "It will be business as usual on the retail side as soon as we get the back up supply sorted out, but on the milling side I would say we are looking at two to three months out of action.
Surveying the damage to his family business, Mr Potter said: "It breaks your heart to see the mill like this, we've had the bandsaw mill for something like 26 years."
Original owner Nelson Potter started in the timber business in the 1950s and doubled the size of the Bromeswell merchants in 1987 following the Great Storm which felled thousands of trees in nearby Rendlesham Forest.