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Fire damaged shops rise from ashes

PUBLISHED: 07:30 16 July 2010 | UPDATED: 20:24 01 August 2010

Two shopkeepers who feared for their livelihoods after a major blaze have seen their businesses rise from the ashes, thanks to the help of the local community.

Two shopkeepers who feared for their livelihoods after a major blaze have seen their businesses rise from the ashes, thanks to the help of the local community.

Judith Balls and Donna Mayes were left devastated last week when flames ripped through a row of first floor flats in Harleston high street, which closed their downstairs shops.

But the Kids Stuff and Kids Wear stores are set to reopen under one roof today - ten days after the Thoroughfare fire - after rallying around to relocate at a vacant town centre location.

The businesswomen have been busy carpeting, decorating, and buying new stock for their new premises in Broad Street after their contents was written off by smoke and water damage following the fire last Tuesday , which is being treated as suspicious by Norfolk Police.

The shopkeepers have also been inundated with offers of second-hand toys, clothes, and equipment by loyal customers and complete strangers.

Mrs Balls, who set up the Kids Stuff shop 13 months ago, said they had managed to secure temporary premises the day after their shops were damaged in the blaze.

The 48-year-old said there had been a “fantastic” response from the Harleston community. She added that it was a shock to think the blaze may have been started deliberately.

“We thought it was an accident, but we did not really know. It is horrible to think that someone would do it on purpose.”

“We want to go back if possible, but we do not know when. There are lots of people we would like to thank - all the shopkeepers who were running in with fire extinguishers and buckets of water and family and friends who offered their help,” she said.

Miss Mayes, 26, who opened Kids Wear in November, added: “We have had lots of people bringing in things to sell. People we have never seen before have said how well we have done and we have only lost six days of trading which I think is brilliant.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det Sgt Dave Sutton at Thetford CID on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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