'I don't know how it's still standing': Eyewitnesses give their accounts of town centre fire as cause still remains a mystery

It has been one week since a blaze in the town's main shopping street broke out and the cause still remains unexplained.

Friday, 22nd June 2018, 11:48 am
Updated Friday, 22nd June 2018, 7:38 pm
Railings have been put around the second-hand shop.

Eyewitnesses on the day told the Chronicle & Echo, one week on, that they were stunned to see huge plumes of smoke wafting through the town centre as flames ravaged the building.

About 35 firefighters were working around-the-clock on Saturday (June 17) to deal with the blaze, which broke out at the top of Abington Street, opposite BBC Radio Northampton.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service was called at about 12.26pm on Saturday (June 16) and the final fire engine left 7.10pm.Six police officers have been working on the scene between Saturday and Tuesday.

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Railings have been put around the second-hand shop.

Bradley Whitmore, 24, of Walgrave was in town to meet up with friends on Saturday. He said: "When we first realised something was wrong I was stood in Island Vape just up the road, thick dark smoke started to fill the street.

"We ran out of the building and stood on the roundabout, with the statue, and the whole road was full of a dark brown-ish smoke, you couldn’t see past Subway.

"Then I left there and went round the back of the shops to get to the other side to get a clear view. To start with there wasn’t a lot of flames, just smoke, but after a few minutes the roof collapsed and the flames became really big.

"Police were knocking on doors of the buildings close to the fire, fire engines were flooding the street as they tackled the fire. Police kept us back to stop us from getting in the way and then finally after a few hours the fire was almost out."I’ve been into town since and the building is badly burnt, I don’t know how it’s still standing. It is a bit of an eyesore but there isn’t much we can do about it bar knocking it down."

The building has been left with no roof.

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire Police said: "At present, the cause of the fire in Abington Street, Northampton, which started on Saturday, June 16, is being treated as unexplained.

“Northamptonshire Police detectives are working with our colleagues at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service to determine the cause but it will be some time before we are able to ascertain what exactly caused the fire.”

Charlotte Hamilton, 37, of Wootton Fields was heading to her dads house to pay him a visit for Fathers Day. She saw the smoke from Wellingborough Road.

She said: "As we got nearer we couldn't even see the road for smoke so we took a detour onto York Road and saw the fire engine spraying the building.

"I drove past it the other day and still think its a lovely building...despite having no roof."

Phil Hudson, 39, of Dallington said traffic is a complete nightmare in the mornings. He said: "I drive past the building every day on the way to work, hopefully they can restore it."

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Following a fire at the weekend, York Road, Northampton, has opened to southbound traffic only, while the northbound lane remains closed for safety reasons.

“A pedestrian walkway will be placed in the closed northbound carriageway to allow access from York Road to Abington Street."