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Fire-hit factory could move

PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:56 01 August 2010

Amy Gray

Employees at the Lowestoft food factory gutted by fire could be offered work at a temporary site.

The Wessex Foods plant employs about 130 people, who are all off work with basic pay, and demolition of the site is due to start this weekend.

Employees at the Lowestoft food factory gutted by fire could be offered work at a temporary site.

The Wessex Foods plant employs about 130 people, who are all off work with basic pay, and demolition of the site is due to start this weekend.

Alistair MacDougall, public affairs consultant for Wessex, said that although he could not say where the potential temporary site could be, it would involve the local employees.

The plant is one of the biggest burger producers in the country and following the blaze, orders were taken on by other factories.

“The utilisation of sister sites within the group was only a short term measure,” said Mr MacDougall. “We are looking at alternative sites that will involve the existing work force.

“We have told the staff that we will continue to be paying basic pay until further notice and we have given them a complete assurance that we will keep them informed of any changes.”

He added that it was too early to make any final decisions about the future of the plant or any potential rebuild in Lowestoft.

Yesterday, the fire service had one crew at the site and one crew was expected to remain throughout the weekend.

Gary Phillips, assistant chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue, said the factory was “almost a total write-off”.

“The contractors are in to demolish the building and take away the burnt items, animal carcasses etc,” he said yesterday.

“Because of the nature of the building there are lots of piles of rubble with hot spots contained within them.

“While the rubble and refuse is removed we will provide support to put the odd hot spot fire out.”

Mr Phillips said the blaze “very unusual” as the fire had been within the building structure itself, rather than its contents.

The fire, which started on Sunday, is not being treated as suspicious by Suffolk police and is believed to have started in some chilling units.

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