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9th APRIL 1998

I WON'T BE BEATEN

   
GUTTED…Mrs. Partel surveys the damage wrought by the fire. The picture shows one of the fridges which exploded during the blaze.

SHELVES… have been cleaned. Stock that did not burn had to be thrown out because of smoke damage.

 
 

ARSON…OWNER reveals another of her stores was hit by armed raid.

THE OWNER of a Cwmgors shop gutted in an arson attack has revealed that another of her stores was held up by armed robbers this week.

But Hansa Patek refuses to be beaten by this double blow, and is vowing to bounce back within soon.

Mrs. Patel, who runs the Spar shop at Heol Y Gors , aims to have her shop up and running despite the extensive damage done when the loading bay was gutted by fire last week.

"We have been open for 11 years and I am determined to be back doing that soon," said Mrs. Patel, who runs six other stores, including ones in Brynamman and Llandeilo.

Mrs. Patel, was in her store in St. Helen's Road, Swansea, two weeks ago when staff at Cwmgors rang to say their shop was on fire.

"‘It was about 8.40 pm when I got the phone call so I rushed from Swansea to see the loading bay and warehouse on fire," said Mrs. Patel.

"Police believe someone had deliberately set fire to the rubbish to be collected the next day."

"The heat from the fire had caused two commercial refrigerators to explode and the fire shot through the roof of the bay and into my upstairs warehouse – which is attached to my flat.

"The flat was filled with dense smoke and by sheer luck my parents were on holiday in the States and my 19-year-old son, Paren, was downstairs.

"My mother has had a stroke.

"There is no way she could have got down the stairs if they had there."

She added "Why would some one do such an act?"

A 16-year-old boy, believed to be from Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen area was arrested by police a few hours after and was questioned in connection with the blaze.

He has been bailed to appear back at Neath Police Station this Saturday.

Two fire crews, from Ammanford and Pontardawe, battled for an hour to contain the fire .

Thousands of pounds worth of stock, including cases of beer and wine, toys and seasonal goods, were destroyed in the fire and environmental health officers have since ordered all edible stock to also be destroyed because of the risk of poisoning from the gas in the refrigerators.

Mrs. Patel and her staff are working overtime at the store in order to have it ready and are still open for papers and lottery tickets.

"It won't beat me and I'll be open soon," she said.

"I have been completely devastated by the fire and the damage is heartbreaking.

"We never had any trouble before, never any problems, but then this happens.

"But now I need some luck fast because my Swansea shop was held up by two armed robbers this week.

"It never rains but it pours,"Mrs. Partel added.

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STORY:
CATHERINE
COEN

PHOTO:
UNKNOWN