‘It’s devastation’ – businessman’s heartache as family firm is destroyed in blaze

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A FAMILY business has been wrecked by a blaze which caused £200,000 damage.

Lincoln Haulage Ltd, based in Market Place Industrial Estate, Houghton, was destroyed when a fire raged for more than three hours yesterday.

The blaze left the building with a gaping hole in the roof, damaged thousands of pounds worth of stock, and brought heartache to the father and son who built the business together over the last 44 years.

The blaze, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault on an air compressor, started at about 10.20am.

Peter Lincoln, who runs the haulage company with father Len, felt the heat on his back, spotted the flames and dragged a gas canister out of the detached unit before shouting for help.

Neighbours called 999, and five fire appliances were on the scene in minutes. “It’s a devastation,” said Peter, who began emptying the building of valuables untouched by the blaze when the scores of firefighters left.

“My livelihood is gone. I’ve got no way of making money now. As soon as it went up, it was just a massive black plume of smoke.”

Friends of the family said they could see the flames from the A19, and neighbours were scared when they saw sparks shooting from the building.

Neighbour Kevin McGowan, 52, of Market Place, who took the photograph above, said he feared for the safety of his home.

“It seemed dangerous because there were minor explosions and things up in the air, and it was like a firework display at times,” he said. “I was worried in case something landed on my property and set it on fire.”

Mr McGowan added: “Quite a few neighbours were outside to see what was going on, and the owner was standing outside the building.”

Fire crews from Rainton Bridge, Birtley, Sunderland Central and Farringdon fire stations attended the fire, which raged until just after 2pm.

No one was hurt in the blaze, in which tyres, vehicles and oil burned, but business founder Len said he is devastated by what has happened.

“We are going to have to work outside,” he said.

“We aren’t supposed to go in the office because of the danger of asbestos in there, and we are going to have to use another building for repairs.

“Thankfully, the wagons are elsewhere.

“But it is devastating, seeing the building like this.”