Waitrose has reopened, less than four weeks after fire gutted part of the building. Branch Manager Chris Reynard paid tribute to the prompt and skilled action of the Fire Service, particularly firefighters from Wellington Fire Station, which saved the building from much more extensive damage.
He said, “The fact we’re able to re-open so soon is testament to the hard work and skill of a lot of people who we’d like to thank. We’re very grateful to those who raised the alarm in the first place, the emergency services for their response and our customers, partners, neighbours and local people for their support.” He presented a cheque for £5,000 for the Firefighters Charity to Watch Manager Derek Ridgeway in the presence of his fellow firefighters and Waitrose staff.
The part of the store damaged in the fire has been screened off and the cafe closed temporarily to create a new entrance. The remainder of the store unaffected by fire is operating as normal.
The fire is thought to be the result of an arson attack. Local resident Richard Pitman (24), was charged with arson at Taunton Magistrates Court in July and has been remanded in custody prior to appearing in Taunton Crown Court on 19 August.
It is estimated that the fire caused £1 million of damage. Work will continue on the affected section of the supermarket and part of the car park is now out of action during rebuilding.
Watch Manager Derek Ridgeway cut the ribbon to reopen the store to customers who expressed their delight in seeing it back in action. One regular shopper said, “I’ve really missed having Waitrose to pop into. It’s great to have it open once again!”
Report: Gill Paltridge