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FAMILY NUMBED BY GARDEN CENTRE FIRE

PUBLISHED: 14:33 10 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 March 2010

A MASSIVE salvage operation is underway after fire ripped through a portable office building at wholesale nurseries in Bentley.

The blaze at Stour Valley Nurseries was visible from as far afield as Washbrook and Tattingstone and totally ruined the office block, severing telephone lines and destroying 20 years of records at the family owned business.

A MASSIVE salvage operation is underway after fire ripped through a portable office building at wholesale nurseries in Bentley.

The blaze at Stour Valley Nurseries was visible from as far afield as Washbrook and Tattingstone and totally ruined the office block, severing telephone lines and destroying 20 years of records at the family owned business.

Owner Richard Pooley, 55, told how he was alerted to the drama around 6.30pm on Sunday, by a phone call from someone living close to the site.

"When I got here the timber frame was still blowing and smouldering, but the roof was gone. The police and fire brigade were already here," he said.

Firefighters at the scene told Mr Pooley, who rushed from his home in Richardson Road, East Bergholt, that damage to the property was so severe the cause of the blaze may never be known.

However, night heaters were left switched on and Mr Pooley, who runs the business with his wife Jane, believes this may have been the cause.

"We've been here since 1980. All my records were destroyed. I've got to go home to ring everybody because I've got no phone lines. I feel a bit numb," he said, visibly distressed as he surveyed the damage today.

Heat from the inferno cracked glass and blistered paint on a nearby shed and started to melt another building next door. Firefighters had to cut through a chain and lock to enter the compound after they were called to the blaze by a neighbour.

Stour Valley Nurseries, on East Bergholt Road, supplies garden centres and local authorities across the region.

Meanwhile, firefighters were still at the scene of a suspected arson attack at a farm in Cotton this morning. Two Dutch barns, approximately 40 metres by 15 metres, containing 1,000 tonnes of straw, caught fire at midnight. Crews were expected to remain at Church Farm, Stonham Road, for most of the morning.

And at Gislingham 300 tonnes of baled straw was destroyed in a blaze, which broke out at 11.40pm.

A spokesman for the fire service said it was too early to tell if the blaze on Mill Street will be treated as arson.

A dishwasher also caught fire at Dennington, and two crews attended the cottage at 12.37pm on Sunday.

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