Boss laments loss of £100,000 equipment as builders' yard is gutted by fire
PUBLISHED: 12:51 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 20:42 15 October 2019
The boss of a home building firm says equipment worth £100,000 has been destroyed in a blaze which devastated a builders' yard.
Homes were evacuated in the early hours of this morning (April 29) after a fire broke out at The Pastures, part of the Woods Meadow housing development being overseen by Oldman Homes in Oulton.
Nearby residents are said to have been awoken by a "loud bang", before realising a site on the corner of Lime Avenue and Farrer Drive was well alight.
Three fire crews - two from Lowestoft South and one from North Lowestoft - were sent to deal with the blaze at around 3.52am, but equipment including a £50,000 telehandler could not be salvaged.
Andrew Oldman, managing director of Oldman Homes, said he was alerted by residents who heard the commotion.
"Residents heard a loud bang at around 3.30am, which was probably the telehandler's tyres blowing out," said Mr Oldman, 39. "They called the fire brigade when they saw how bad the flames were and I got called shortly afterwards.
"The main thing in there was a telehandler which is a large piece of kit for us - that caught fire and we've lost that. Aside from that there were a few diesel barrels and shipping containers with general sundries.
"We've probably lost around £100,000 worth of stuff, give or take. The telehandler's worth around £50,000 on its own.
"It's not an ideal thing to have to deal with first thing on a Monday morning."
Having arrived at the yard - near The Limes Primary Academy - firefighters used three main jets, a hose reel jet and breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze, preventing it from spreading to a 10,000-litre diesel tank.
Suffolk police closed the road and residents in two of the adjacent properties were evacuated as a precaution until the fire was extinguished at around 5.37am.
An investigation is under way to establish the cause of the blaze, which is thought to have been started deliberately.
"The fire service assume this was a break-in followed by arson," added Mr Oldman. "There's obviously been some sort of forced entry and it looks like someone has climbed over the top of the fence to try and steal the diesel.
"From here, we'll get going with a clean-up operation and do our best to continue with business as usual."