WISBECH: Carelessly discarded cigarette caused fire at Specsavers.
A NUMBER of town centre shops were evacuated on Saturday when a fire broke out in the front of a store – caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette. But the damage at the Specsavers store in the Market Place was confined to panelling outside, and some cos
A NUMBER of town centre shops were evacuated on Saturday when a fire broke out in the front of a store - caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette.
But the damage at the Specsavers store in the Market Place was confined to panelling outside, and some cosmetic damage inside.
Mike Avery, retail director at Specsavers Wisbech, said: "The shop is fine and was reopened later on Saturday.
"I was on my way to Birmingham at the time when I got a call saying there was a fire and I just had images of the store being gutted. I came back to Wisbech and it was quite a relief when I saw it was virtually nothing."
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The cigarette fell behind the external panelling at the front of the store - a listed building - and an interior wall. A number of neighbouring shops, such as Frank's butchers next door, were evacuated.
Mr Avery said: "Staff said they could smell smoke at the time but could not see the flames and thought it was a smell from the store's air conditioning.
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"A member of the public then came into the store and said they could see some small flames at the front of the store, so the staff looked and at that point the flames came through to the inside of the shop as well."
Crews from Wisbech, March, Outwell and Peterborough extinguished the blaze using hose reels.
Nigel Burgess, station manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We would advise members of the public to make sure that their smoking materials are completely extinguished before they dispose of them.
"A dropped lit cigarette or cigar can very easily start a fire if it comes into contact with flammable materials.