Tow Law shopkeeper vows to rebuild after devastating fire

The Northern Echo: Firefighters battle the blaze in the early hours of this morning Firefighters battle the blaze in the early hours of this morning

A DEVASTATED retailer has vowed to rebuild his business after a blaze gutted his shop in a County Durham town early this morning.

Michael McCormick and his wife Mary could only stand and watch as the fire destroyed their Nisa Local Store on Tow Law High Street.

Mr McCormick said he and his wife were in bed when they received a call at about 3.30am from a security firm informing them that their alarm had gone off.

The couple went to the shop and discovered it well alight.

Another couple living in a flat next to the shop were evacuated, but no-one was hurt in the blaze.

The shop employs ten people all from the Tow Law area, and Mrs McCormick said it was them she was feeling for.

Mrs McCormick said: “We are worrying now about the girls that work for us, one of them is expecting her first child and they all have homes they need to pay for.

“We are just devastated by it.”

Mr McCormick said there was no indication at this stage of what caused the blaze, and the fire service and police have now launched an investigation.

He said: “We have no idea how it started.

“We will be back though, we will rebuild it and re-open.”

Margaret Hobson, who lives opposite the store, said: “Thankfully no-one was hurt, but it is just so awful, a terrible tragedy for the town.

“Everyone uses the shop and the McCormicks are well known and liked, I feel so sorry for them.

“I have lived here for 43 years and have never seen anything like it.”

About 35 Firefighters from Crook, Bishop Auckland and Consett battled the blaze using jets, breathing apparatus and the aerial ladder platform from Durham.

Dominic Brown from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was brought under control within an hour and a half and was completely extinguished several hours later.

He said the biggest challenge was stopping it from spreading down the terrace, and firefighters had to enter the unstable building to put out hotspots.

An investigation is now underway to see how it started, with the service’s sniffer dog Scrappy going in to detect any possible accelerants.

Mr Brown said: “We are not ruling out arson, but there are no immediate obvious signs that it was started deliberately.”

The A68 through Tow Law, which was closed at about 4am, remained closed until after lunchtime today (Tuesday, December 31) while the investigation was carried out.

Anyone with information on the fire is asked to contact Durham Police on 101.

Comments (1)

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2:18am Wed 1 Jan 14

smiler03 says...

To the McCormicks and Staff,

We wish you all a very speedy process to reopening your business. You are such an important asset to the town and it is very difficult to imagine Tow Law's High Street without your presence.

Is there any way your day to day customers such as us can help?

Ian Porter, Weardale Crescent, Tow Law
To the McCormicks and Staff, We wish you all a very speedy process to reopening your business. You are such an important asset to the town and it is very difficult to imagine Tow Law's High Street without your presence. Is there any way your day to day customers such as us can help? Ian Porter, Weardale Crescent, Tow Law smiler03

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