THE DESTRUCTION of a row of Carnoustie shops is a situation to be dealt with, not a catastrophe, according to the owner.
Bill Bowles, independent councillor and owner of the Perfect Laundry and the Carnoustie Country Larder, is already making progress on re-opening, which could be as early as next week.
On Friday, around 30 firefighters battled the blaze which swept through the two occupied stores run by Mr Bowles and a third vacant premises, the former Granite City Fish Ltd.
The fire was spotted by the retained Carnoustie fire crew while on another call and appliances from Balmossie, Kingsway and MacAlpine Road were despatched to their aid.
A spokesperson for Tayside Fire and Rescue said: “The Carnoustie retained fire crew was on its way back from another incident when it spotted the fire.”
Mr Bowles spoke to the Guide & Gazette about the events of Friday evening. He said: “On Friday night I got a call at about 7.50 p.m. while I was sitting relaxing watching the rugby, to tell me there was a fire engine outside the shop and there was smoke coming from it.
“So I shouted to my wife, Gwen, ‘The shop’s on fire’ and jumped in the car and drove down there.
“I opened the doors and smoke came pouring out so we shut the door and the firefighters went in with breathing apparatus, but then this fireball started to come towards everybody and they pulled out.
“The fireball hit the shop roof, I’ve never seen anything like it. Up until that point I was worried about smoke and water damage to the building, then all of a sudden it was ‘I’m going to lose everything’.
“I was very concerned about the residential properties to the west of the greengrocer but the firefighters managed to save them and put the fire out.”
The stop signal was given by Tayside Fire and Rescue at 12.53 a.m. on Saturday and at 1.30 a.m. the Carnoustie crew left the scene.
Firefighters returned later that morning to ensure the site had been properly damped down and to begin an investigation into the cause of the fire.
Mr Bowles said: “It started in our back kitchen. We may never know exactly what happened, but at the moment it looks like it was a faulty kettle. That’s the last I heard from the investigating officer.”
Speaking on Tuesday Mr Bowles added: “I have just had a meeting with the insurers, the loss adjusters, the structural engineer and the council and the hope is that we can retain the frontage and the sides, but until we get all the rubble outside we won’t know for sure.
“We are going to support the frontage with scaffolding inside and out to hold it up and the road and pavement will be re-opened shortly.”
Although things looked grim on Friday, with the support of the community and nearby businesses Mr Bowles is looking forward not back.
He said: “There’s a solution now. It was a catastrophe on Friday, but by Saturday it was a situation we could deal with.”
A six-month lease has been arranged for the former Mel’s Pet Shop at 69 High Street, and the Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee have agreed to rent out the use of the commercial washing and drying facilities at the pro centre, while a Dundee firm has offered the use of machinery and work space for Mr Bowles and his staff in the interim.
He said: “The business will be up and running there hopefully by Monday, providing the services we did before the fire.
“Basically we hope the business will be back up and running in the same place and the Perfect Laundry and the Carnoustie Country Larder back the way they were before.”
According to Mr Bowles the support from the community has been a great boost to himself and his family.
He said: “It’s been phenomenal, the support we’ve had and we’re really humbled that people appreciate what we do and the offers of help have not stopped.
“The amount of sympathy and support for what we’re going through is really overwhelming.”
l Rugby Club strips donation and theatre club hope for panto costumes - see page 3
l Watch the video of the fire on www.guideandgazette.co.uk