'Major damage' in Stokesley garden centre fire

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Media caption,

The fire burned overnight at the garden centre

A huge fire has destroyed large parts of a garden centre dubbed a "local institution".

The fire burned overnight at Strikes Garden Centre in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, including its aquatics centre containing tropical fish.

Fire crews were called at 21:20 BST on Friday, with eight fire engines and 40 firefighters attending at its height.

North Yorkshire Fire Service said there had been "major damage" to the centre and the roof had collapsed.

Three crews remained at the scene on Saturday morning.

Image caption,
The roof of the garden centre collapsed
Image caption,
The damage could be seen on Saturday morning

Station manager Andy Creasy said on Saturday that crews were still "dealing with hotspots" and that investigation teams were on their way to establish the cause of the fire, but that it may take some time.

He said: "As the fire service we're looking at preserving life and then property.

"But the key thing as well is that we don't put our firefighters at excessive risk due to the ferocity of the fire."

The A172 was closed overnight because water had to be pumped across the road.

'Feel for staff'

David Arbus, retail operations director for Klondyke Strikes, said 90% of the shop had been destroyed.

He praised staff who had been arriving for work on Saturday morning.

"They're passionate about their jobs, they're passionate about what they do.

"I feel for them. I really do feel for them."

Image caption,
Anne Boswell said she had visited Strikes earlier in the day

Stokesley resident Anne Boswell said: "It's a place I regularly go with friends - it's a really popular place.

"It's very rare you go past here and the car park's empty. It's such a shame."

Witness Sarah Donkanha, said: "It's just awful. For the people who work there... everything really. I can't even think of another word - it's devastating."

The Topiary Coffee Shop in the centre was expanded in 2015 as part of a redevelopment project.

The garden centre sells plants, garden furniture, garden tools, homeware and clothing.

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