BUSINESSES affected by Saturday’s blaze have praised the response of St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk Fire Service.
Owners also reported a wave of ‘community spirit’ following the fire which left many shops in The Traverse and Buttermarket closed as fire fighters dealt with the precarious Cupola House structure.
Daily briefings, led by the fire service and borough council, have kept businesses informed while the situation developed.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury, said he could not have been more happy with the support provided.
“I take my hat off to the fire service and St Edmundsbury. They have both grasped the nettle and realised the importance of returning to normality as soon as possible,” he said.
Andrea Mayley, economic development manager for St Edmundsbury, said the council wanted businesses to keep it informed as repair and safety work went on.
“There are going to be frustrations ahead but we want businesses to make sure we know about them so we can do all we can to help,” she said.
Two of the worst affected businesses, Jessops and Sahara, could be provided with temporary premises in nearby Risbygate Street, according to Ms Mayley.
Sahara has already moved the majority of its stock into an empty unit in the town centre.
Harriet’s Tea Rooms has also been hit as its fire exit is blocked by the emergency services compound.
Ms Mayley said Harriet’s reliance on weekend and outdoor trade made it a priority case for the council.
Tracy Scarff, team leader at Jessops, which is next to Strada, said the store had been affected by water and was being boarded up for security reasons.
She said: “By the sounds of it, it’s not going to be a quick job so we are keeping things secure.”
Other stores hampered by access issues are also being allowed to put up A-boards – which are otherwise not allowed.
Trevor Barrett, co-owner of Butterworths which re-opened on Wednesday, said the businesses were willing to wait for repairs to be made.
“Everyone here is pretty pragmatic about it – it has to be cleared up and dealt with so we’ll live with it,” he said.
A lack in footfall caused by temporary barriers has been offset by shoppers wanting to look at the Cupola House site, according to Mr Barrett.
Several businesses reported being affected by smoke.
Around 14 stores remained closed on Monday morning as the fire service tried to ascertain the extent of the fire’s reach.
But by Wednesday, only six remained shut, with the possibility of staying closed for the weekend.`