Restaurant owner's shock at fire

JUST two days before a new Ipswich wine bar was due to open, its owner has today said he is in shock after it was destroyed by fire.Firefighters arrived at Harvey's, in Queen Street, at 3.

JUST two days before a new Ipswich wine bar was due to open, its owner has today said he is in shock after it was destroyed by fire.

Firefighters arrived at Harvey's, in Queen Street, at 3.20am today to find the whole of the ground floor engulfed with flames, and the two other storeys, which included at least two commercial offices and three flats, were heavily smoke logged.

The fire completely destroyed the bar area on the ground floor, at one time a pole dancing club, which has just undergone a £250,000 refurbishment, in time for the grand opening on Thursday under new ownership.

The incident is currently being investigated by fire chiefs.

Trevor Hollinsworth, one of the owners, said: “We were supposed to open in 48 hours and I came along today to finish a few remaining jobs.

“I am pretty upset - it has left me punch drunk. We were a day and a half away from opening what was to be a beautiful new bar and restaurant and it has literally gone up in smoke.

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“Until we can get access to the building, we will not know what the damage is. The minute we can get back inside, it will be straight to work.

“It's hard to say when we will be open again as it depends on the insurance companies but I hope we could get something done before Christmas.”

Three people living in the flats above were alerted by a fire alarm system and escaped the burning building before firefighters arrived. They were allowed back into their properties within an hour.

Harry Smith, sub officer for Red Watch at Princes Street station, said: “The street was heavily smoke logged. Smoke and flames were coming out of the main window next to the Princes Street entrance. It was a well developed fire, which had been burning for some time.

“This was not something small-it filled the whole room. It has caused severe damage.”

Philip Donnell, manager of Harvey's, arrived at the scene at 7.45am today, having no idea that his restaurant had gone up in flames overnight.

He added: “I'm gutted obviously. We are not going to be beaten by this.”

Four crews from Princes Street and Colchester Road tackled the flames, and brought it under control within 15 minutes.

The cause of the fire is currently unexplained. Police said they are assisting fire officers with the investigation.

The venue, one of the busiest locations in Ipswich, previously opened as Coconut Grove and before that the Giles Tavern. It is the latest venture from Hollywood Leisure which already owns Ipswich nightspots Fire and Ice and Ollie's Cocktail Café.

Did you see what happened? Have you any images of the fire? Contact The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk.

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