Garage devastated by fire

THE OWNERS of a family-run garage have been left devastated by a major fire which badly damaged the building and destroyed more than �30,000 of cars.

James Hore

THE OWNERS of a family-run garage have been left devastated by a major fire which badly damaged the building and destroyed more than �30,000 of cars.

Jack Bright, who runs Hedingham Auto Services with his dad, David, arrived at work yesterday to find it was alight.

Explosions were heard as the flames hit petrol tanks of the cars and fire crews spent about two hours tackling the blaze to bring it under control.

Police and firefighters have now launched a joint-investigation into the cause which is not known at this stage.

Speaking to the EADT last night Jack Bright said they were hopeful of getting the business at Great Yeldham, near Halstead, up-and-running again within a matter of days but revealed a number of cars, including his “pride and joy”, had been destroyed.

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One of the cars - a Vauxhall Tigra - had been specially modified and has been displayed at motoring shows and two Sierra Cosworths were also ruined.

He said: “It was very serious - it has wiped out six cars and left two with minor damage but everyone is alright which is the main thing.

“We had not arrived and when we turned up there were seven or eight police cars and then literally as we arrived the fire brigade turned up.

“I was thinking the whole place was going to go down as the flames were hitting the roof.”

Mr Bright said some of the cars were now nothing more than bare shells.

“We are hoping to be up again within a couple of days but have been told not to move the cars until the loss adjustor has been in.

“The fire brigade could not tell us much but said it was probably an electrical fault on one of the cars and the flames have then swept to another and then another. There was no sign of forced entry.

“It is very gutting to see your pride and joy burn away but there was no-one in there and people can't be replaced so it could have been a lot worse.”

Mr Bright said his dad had suffered a heart attack just before Christmas and said he was now feeling stressed from seeing his business go up in flames.

Sarah Blackburn, who works nearby at Heritage Classic Fireplaces, called 999 when she saw the fire.

She said: “There was a lot of smoke coming out of there and there were some explosions on the inside.

“When I arrived the alarm was going off at 8.20am so I dialled 999 and got the fire brigade out here.

“One chap from another garage had gone over to look what was going on but suddenly ran away as it started exploding and we could see smoke coming from the roof.”

Two fire crews from Halstead and four more from over the border in Suffolk attended the incident on the Hunnable Industrial Estate and used breathing apparatus to tackle the fire.

A fire service spokesman said: “The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage and an investigation will be carried out by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and the police.”