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Furniture workshop blaze at Henley

PUBLISHED: 19:15 14 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:05 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK businessman Lee Pulham thought one of his workers was pulling his leg when he phoned to tell him his furniture workshop was on fire.

But when he arrived at the workshop at Hill Farm Barns, Henley, he found four fire crews putting out a blaze which could have destroyed the business he had owned for eight years.

SUFFOLK businessman Lee Pulham thought one of his workers was pulling his leg when he phoned to tell him his furniture workshop was on fire.

But when he arrived at the workshop at Hill Farm Barns, Henley, he found four fire crews putting out a blaze which could have destroyed the business he had owned for eight years.

With tears in his eyes, Mr Pulham from Bramford surveyed the burned out building which he had built from scratch and was now faced with rebuilding it all again.

He heard the news as he was on his way to give his daughter her 21st birthday present.

He said: "I thought he was messing about as he likes to wind people up.

"When he phoned me I heard the alarm going off in the background and I thought he had set it off by mistake.

"But when I got over here I saw this lot (the fire engines)."

The employee had been working late at the premises and when he spotted the fire at around 6.45pm, tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher before he called the fire brigade.

Thankfully he was not injured in the blaze and managed to escape it, but according to Divisional Officer Phil Embury, things could have been a lot worse.

As a furniture workshop, the building was filled with timber and sawdust which could have caught light at any time.

The fire started in the centre of the building causing the roof to collapse, but crews had it all under control within 30 minutes of their arrival/.Four fire crews from Princes Street and Colchester Road fought the fire and a turntable ladder was also brought in.

DO Embury said: "It could have been an awful lot worse but the worker managed to put it out a little bit with the fire extinguisher.

"He was lucky to notice it as he was in a different part of the building.

"It was a severe fire in the centre of the building and when the first crew arrived there was lots of smoke and flames coming out of the roof."

The cause of the fire is not yet known but it is not being treated as suspicious.

For Mr Pulham the fire marks what seems to be a run of bad luck. On Wednesday he crashed his car as he travelled between Henley and Claydon. Luckily he was not injured.

The next couple of months look bleak. He had set up the business after taking voluntary redundancy from The Sun newspaper where he had worked as a compositor.

He said: "There is about £40,000 of machinery in there, probably worth more than that from new.

"Hopefully it is not too damaged - it is just a matter of cleaning it all up and repairing the roof.

"It could take a couple of months though and I have three blokes working for me."

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