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Norfolk family left with nothing after fire

PUBLISHED: 21:21 26 June 2011

John Sayer and his son Jamie are now homeless following the fire at his Shortthorn Road scaffolding business.; photo by Adrian Judd

John Sayer and his son Jamie are now homeless following the fire at his Shortthorn Road scaffolding business.; photo by Adrian Judd

Archant Norfolk 2011

A devastated father described how he had been "left with nothing" after his home and workplace were gutted by a blaze which tore through an industrial estate.

John Sayer and his family could only watch as the fire crept from building to building at the Ace industrial estate in Stratton Strawless overnight on Wednesday, devastating his business, Canary Scaffolding, and his home.

The father-of-five described the scene when the fire, which took 50 firemen to control, first broke out at 11pm in a container in the yard and caused an estimated £150,000 of damage.

“There was smoke billowing out and the heat was so intense you couldn’t get close – I can’t explain how it felt to see that because I knew once it got past the containers and on to the timber, it would all go up.”

Mr Sayer had lived on site, affectionately nicknamed ‘scaffsville’, with his son Jamie for eight years. Working with Karl, John’s nephew, they had built it into a thriving business, buying portable buildings and turning them into a home and workplace.

Five years ago, they bought the site for £70,000, having previously rented it.

Mr Sayer believes the fire at the yard, which is just off Shorthorn Road, was caused by sparks from a grinder. It led to families being evacuated from their homes in nearby Edwin Close and a 200m cordon being put up amid fears of acetylene gas cylinders exploding.

“We were really proud of it. Last year nearly finished us because the work had dried up but we pulled it round again and in the last three months we were back on track,” Mr Sayer said.

He had been collecting household goods ahead of plans to move out and find a home with his new wife Guy, who is from Thailand,

But now, as well as their home, office and five vehicles, the couple have lost a wedding ring in the wreckage. And Mr Sayer has no way of tracing the paperwork for 50 bookings.

Appealing for help with finding a home, he said: “I woke up this morning and I hoped I had been dreaming, but it’s a nightmare. We had everything here and it was our life, but now it’s gone and we’ve lost everything and we’ve been left with nothing.”

Have you been hit by a devastating fire? Call reporter John Owens on 01603 772439 or email john.owens@archant.co.uk

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