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Market Cross saved from fire

PUBLISHED: 10:50 28 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:22 14 July 2010

A quick-thinking shopkeeper and an eagle-eyed customer used a fire extinguisher to save an historic Norfolk building from going up in flames.

Arsonists set light one of the legs of the 600-year-old Grade 1 listed Market Cross in the centre of Wymondham last night.

A quick-thinking shopkeeper and an eagle-eyed customer used a fire extinguisher to save an historic Norfolk building from going up in flames.

Arsonists set light one of the legs of the 600-year-old Grade 1 listed Market Cross in the centre of Wymondham last night.

But Simon Driver, a relief manager at the Co-op across the road, rushed across with a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze before much damage was caused, after a customer ran into the store to alert them that smoke was coming from the Market Cross.

Today, Martin Barsby, a spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, praised Mr Driver's quick-thinking.

He said: “One of the legs of the historic building was set alight, and if that leg had been destroyed it could have had serious consequences for the whole building.

“Quick-thinking by a local shopkeeper who rushed out with a fire extinguisher saved it. And a fire crew from Attleborough was in Wymondham at the time, and was on scene every quickly.

“Together they were able to put out the fire before it could cause any damage to the building other than charred remains.

“We are treating it as arson and an investigation has already started into the blaze.”

A manager at the Co-op, who did not wish to be named, said Mr Driver normally worked at the store in Hopton, near Great Yarmouth, and was only there as relief.

She said: “Someone had stuffed some paper into a hole in one of the legs of the building and set it alight. A customer came in to the store and asked to borrow a fire extinguisher to put it out, and Simon went out with him and did it.

“It's not a very nice thing to do to set fire to such an historic building. It's part of our heritage. The youths who did it ran off as soon as the fire engines arrived.”

Another shopper, who did not wish to be named, said the town needed a bigger police presence at night.

She said: “It's just an element that causes trouble, and maybe it's because there's nothing for them to do in Wymondham.”

Crews from Attleborough, Sprowston and Hethersett attended Market Cross in Market Place at about 6.50pm last night.

Are you suffering from anti-social behaviour where you live? Ring reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.


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