Blaze rips through nearly 20 vehicles at car repair centre

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning.
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East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The owner of a family-run car repair centre has been left "devastated" after a fire ripped through almost 20 customers' vehicles.

Firefighters from Dereham, Fakenham, and Swaffham attended East Bilney Coachworks on Fakenham Road near Dereham, at 4.05am on Thursday, April 29.

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning.
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East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The blaze badly damaged between 15 and 20 cars causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

A cordon was put in place as police forensics officers carried out an investigation.

Owner of the repair shop, Colin Baldwin, 77, who is one of four family members who are directors, raised the alarm after his wife spotted the fire from their bedroom window.

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning.
Byli

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"I was the first one here and could hear pops and bangs from up the driveway," he said. "I was here in my dressing gown and waited until the emergency services got here.

"It's absolutely devastating and was quite traumatic, we're all about customer service and treating our customers right, and then something that's completely out of our hands like this happens."

Norfolk police are now investigating the cause of the fire, which happened while no members of staff were at the repair shop.

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning.
Byli

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Nobody was injured in the blaze and CCTV at the site has been passed on to officers.

Mark Waters, group operations manager at East Bilney Coachworks, said it is "very rare" that anything like this happens.

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He added: "We have one car with electric problems that caused a fire around 20 years ago but something like this has never happened to us before.

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning.
Byli

East Bilney Coachworks in East Bilney where there was a fire in the early hours of the morning. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"It is devastating, but we are working with police while they investigate the incident and our repair shop is continuing to operate."

Staff are unable to assess the damage of the vehicles involved while the police cordon is in place but have made customers and insurance companies aware of the incident.

East Bilney Coachworks has eight branches in Norfolk and was established in 1975.

Any customers wanting more information on vehicles can ring 01362 860599.

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