Blaze at Oxfam charity store in St Albans ruins stock

PUBLISHED: 15:09 21 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:09 21 February 2016

Firefighters tackling the blaze at the Oxfam charity store in Chequer Street, St Albans. Photo courtesy of @Redbournfire/Twitter

Firefighters tackling the blaze at the Oxfam charity store in Chequer Street, St Albans. Photo courtesy of @Redbournfire/Twitter

@Redbournfire/Twitter

Thousands of pounds of vital fundraising stock have gone up in flames following a fire in a charity shop in St Albans' city centre this morning (Sunday).

Volunteers at the Oxfam shop in Chequer Street were left ‘shocked’ after flames tore through donated goods on the third floor of the store before 7am.

No one was hurt in the blaze, but according to store manager Chris Rhodes, “about £10,000 - £15,000 worth of stock has been ruined”.

The store has been temporarily closed from today while the charity assesses the damage and begins a massive clean-up of the bags of charred clothing, shoes, handbags and other items.

Chris told the Herts Advertiser: “We have had all our summer clothing completely destroyed. We had been preparing for the season changeover, and were going to have a big tidy-up.

“I came in at about 8am this morning, and there were two fire engines outside. As I approached the store, I realised they were at our shop.”

She praised local firefighters who managed to stop the flames spreading to the lower floors, and to neighbouring shops in the building.

Chris added: “By the time we got here, they had stopped spraying the fire.

“They told me they were pleased to see me, as they didn’t know how to disable the fire alarm, as they didn’t know where the electrical fuse board was located.

“We are just so pleased that no one was injured.”

Chequer Street was initially closed as crews attended the fire, but has been reopened.

Oxfam has had to de-list “everything from eBay” as a result of the blaze which destroyed about four months worth of clothing and other items which were to have been used to sell online, and stock the store on the ground floor from April to July.

Chris said: “We are now desperately in need of stock.

“I’m in shock. I would say that, basically, a lot of hard work has gone to waste, because the donations had been saved to replenish the store, so this is really upsetting.”

She said that, all going well, the store should re-open later this week, and will be able to take donations to begin replenishing the donated items from next Saturday.

More information in Thursday’s edition of the Herts Advertiser.

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