Mystery over Chester city fire

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Staff reporter

FIRE investigators have revealed that the cause of a huge blaze that ripped through the Chester Enterprise Centre is likely to remain a mystery despite a major investigation.

Following a week-long probe to find the cause of the huge industrial fire which tore through the former warehouse off Hoole Bridge, Hoole, Chester, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service chiefs have said that all the evidence indicates that the cause was accidental.

Investigators have carried out extensive inquiries including using a specially-trained fire investigation dog, reviewing witness statements and a thorough examination of the area where the fire started since the incident happened on Thursday, December 2.

Mark Abram, the service’s head of community fire protection, said: “While we have been able to rule out a lot of potential causes, the intensity of the blaze means that we cannot pinpoint the exact cause other than to say that it was accidental."”

Men and women from more than 50 businesses, who lost their offices as a result of the fire, were interviewed as part of the investigation.

Gas was ruled out as a cause by the National Grid, who were called out to Lightfoot Street on the day of the incident.

Meanwhile, many business owners have struggled to get back on their feet after the devastating fire, despite receiving help from council chiefs and other support agencies.

Many protested outside of the Royal Mail sorting office in Chester at the weekend after they claimed the delivery service had refused to give them at least five days worth of mail since the fire ripped through their premises at Chester Enterprise Centre.

They say that Royal Mail has told them they must have a business address to deliver to.

Graham Hughes, director of Hatcher Hughes accountants said he was furious with the postal service.

He said: “As soon as I saw the blaze on the TV on that morning I instantly got the phones redirected and printed off a mail redirection form and handed it in.”

Mr Hughes said he waited until Friday, December 10, to collect a weeks worth of mail, but was unable to when he learnt that Cheshire West and Chester Council had collected it instead.

Mr Hughes said: “I was infuriated I hadn’t been informed and now I have been six working days without post and the mail won’t come to me until about three days.”

The family run firm, which had been re-homed at Chester Train Station and lost every paper record in the fire, relies heavy on post from the Royal Mail.

Mr Hughes added: “It has been horrendous with all the stress and the trauma and this is the busiest time for us with the Inland Revenue deadlines. This should not be happening.”

Royal Mail spokeswoman, Wendy Martin said: “We have every sympathy with customers affected by the Enterprise Centre fire and have helped a number of them to set up alternative, secure arrangements for their mail. We continue to do everything possible to find a suitable solution for the others.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Mosely has made several attempts to contact Royal Mail, but his spokesman Kevin Evans said that he has been unsuccessful so far.

See full story in the Leader

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