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Traders fear impact of Stanley fires
BUSINESSES in a North-East town hit by two major fires in the space of a month fear the impact they will have on trade in the run up to Christmas.
Several shops have been closed following the blaze, which has severely damaged a row of Victorian buildings on Front Street in Stanley County Durham.
The alarm was raised just before 7am on Friday and firefighters spent over four hours getting the fire under control.
The future of the buildings is now uncertain, but the Edwardian Elite Buildings hundreds of yards away has been demolished after a fierce fire, which broke out in Wongs Chop Suey House last month.
Paul Montgomery, who owns three pubs on Front Street, said: “Stanley has had two big whammys and the place looks like a bomb has hit it.
“People are avoiding the town centre at a time when we they are wanting to come in but can’t because the access is so bad.
“It is a disaster, and it could not have come at a worse time.”
One firefighter who suffered a badly injured leg after masonry fell on him while tackling the fire on Friday is recovering at home and police are treating incident as arson.
The row of buildings includes David Hawkins Estate Agents, Pizzaland takeaway, Rapau Hair Design, Bertie’s cafe and the Willow Burn Hospice Charity shop.
Pat Stevens, manageress of Steven’s News, said: “It really is bad because there are a lot of businesses that have been affected.
“They have cordoned the street so a lot more businesses have been affected. It is horrendous.
“People have been taking bets about where is going to go up next.”
At the height of the fire on Friday there were eight fire appliances on the scene as well as the incident command support unit and an aerial ladder platform.
More than 35 firefighters and officers attended as well as police and other emergency services.
The fire is less than 50 yards from the scene of a firebomb arson attack, which destroyed the former Co-op building in June 2008, for which no-one has been caught.
Although Friday’s fire is being treated as malicious, the Chinese takeaway blaze is thought to have been accidental.
Joint fire service and police investigations into both are underway.
Anyone with information is asked to call the force non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.
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