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Rackheath bus company back in action after explosion

Explosion at Rackheath Industrial Estate.

View of the aftermath

Clearing up debris from the road

Explosion at Rackheath Industrial Estate. View of the aftermath Clearing up debris from the road

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

A bus company lost an estimated £5,000-worth of business following the massive explosion at the Rackheath Industrial Estate.

"it was understandable that no one was allowed through while it was still dangerous."

Andrew Pursey - director of Anglian Bus

The closure of the estate for the majority of Thursday, following the huge blast at KC Cafe on Wendover Road on Wednesday night, meant that a large chunk of Anglian Bus services could not leave their overnight garage.

Andrew Pursey, director of Anglian Bus, estimated that the lost day’s worth of business would cost the company up to £5,000.

He said: “A lot of our workers were obviously worried about their wages because they could not work, but it wasn’t their fault. Our biggest concern was that an awful lot of our customers had been left without a service, though.

“With the best will in the world, we could have moved some services to cover, but with 18-20 buses out of action, we can’t carry that amount.

“I know our staff did turn up for work and parked their cars at the village hall, but all we could have them doing was cleaning buses and things like that. We couldn’t get in and out of the industrial estate because of safety reasons.”

However, Mr Pursey added: “I had a phone call early on Thursday morning from our insurance brokers who had heard about the incident and said they had checked our policy did include business interruption cover.”

Anglian Bus services to Norwich from Gorleston and Great Yarmouth (A47 service), Eaton (121), Cringleford (122), Wroxham (123), Plumstead (124), Drayton (125) and Lowestoft (L2), as well as the 830 service from Blofield to East Norfolk Sixth Form College and the 999 service from Eaton Park to Gertrude Road via the city centre, were all unable to run.

But after Wendover Road was cautiously opened up for private use early on Thursday evening, many of the hundreds of businesses started trying to get some of their transport moving.

Mr Pursey added: “Thankfully we are back to normal now. We had noticed on Thursday night that the road was going to be open again on Friday morning and we had plans in action so that we could get back to a normal service.

“Our main concern was the access road in and out wasn’t safe to let any big vehicles past the site, so it was understandable that no one was allowed through while it was still dangerous. But the irony was that it was the only road in or out and we had never considered that before.

“That is maybe something that we are going to have to consider, but it was a pretty unique situation that hopefully won’t happen again.”

Investigations into the exact cause of the explosion are still continuing as the clear-up operation moved into full swing. It is thought that the cause was an accidental gas explosion at KC Cafe, but that official conclusion has yet to be reached.

Meanwhile, as life begins to return to normal on the industrial estate, it has been no obvious damage to the World War Two memorial on Liberator Close - around a quarter of a mile from the blast.

The US Air Force’s 467th Bombardment Group were based at the former RAF base site during the closing stages of the Second World War and became known as the Rackheath Aggies.

Have you been affected by the blast? Call reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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