LEFT TO PICK UP THE PIECES
Mrs. Suzanne Pritchard was left counting the cost after her thriving wool shop went up in smoke. “I've lost a lot, £11,000 worth,” she said. “Everything is ruined, all my goods, the wool and baby clothing has gone. “Thank goodness I was insured but that isn't going to compensate for the loss. It's not so much the money but the effort I've put into it.”
Close to tears she said: “I was here when Shopper's World first opened last August and it took time to get the business off the ground but it was going well now.” Determined not to be beaten though, Mrs. Pritchard, who lives in Cross Hands, promised: “We'll start again.”
TWO TYCROES women who sold baby-wear at Shopper's World had £400 worth of goods delivered just before the shop closed on the night of the fire. “We feel terrible,” said Mrs. Shirley Richards of 80 Ammanford Road and her partner, Mrs Margaret Green of Wernos Farm as they sifted through burnt garments.
Initially they acted as agents for young mothers wanting to buy and sell second-hand baby equipment but they realised there was also a demand for new things and were now selling them. “We were going so well this is heartbreaking,” said Mrs. Richards.
On the morning after the blaze even though they were feeling very sorry for themselves the two women still found time to sympathise with a young Tycroes couple expecting their new baby any day and whose pram was lost in the fire.
“Poor Louise Wolf had paid £90 for a brand new pram,” said Mrs. Richards. “She and her husband are both unemployed and they'd saved up to get it. It was packed up ready by the door and was to have been delivered today. The plastic round it has melted and ruined it.”
A MOTHER who opened a shop for her 17-year old son because job prospects were so poor said she was “devastated” by the fire at Shopper's World.
"Id only been there for six weeks and I'd put quite a lot of money into it,” said Mrs eiriona Rees of Garnant.
I stated the sweet shop for my son, Andrew, who is on a YTS scheme but has no prospect of a job at the end. I thought I'd try this for him.
“It's been a jolly happy place. There's a lovely community spirit. We all feel for one another now and are all helping one another.
“I stood here watching everything going up in flames and there was nothing we could do. But if Mr. Howells does rebuild we'll go back in.”
TWO people who heaved a huge sigh of relief last week were Mrs. Meryl Morris and her daughter, Diane, who until recently had a jewellery stall in Shopper's World called “Isis.”
Exactly four weeks before the fire they moved down the road in Wind Street.
“I feel very relieved that we got out of there,” said Diane. “It seems like a miracle that we moved just in the nick of time.” Her mother added: “We can't believe our luck. We were there from the first day it opened.”
LAST week's blaze at Shopper's World of 156 Cwmaman Road, Glanaman, but losing touch with customers.
As a qualified electrician I've lost initial contact with my customers now. But I'll be back within six months,” he said.
UNDAMAGED despite the heat of last week's fire were eggs belonging to Mrs. Eulonwy Howell of Garnant who ran a bakery, confectionery and delicatessen shop.
“It is unbelievable that the eggs remained intact,” said her daughters, Jayne (18) and Katrin (14).
Mrs Howells was one of thee lucky ones in that she managed to salvage her bacon slicer and other expensive equipment, including some counters. “But we've had to leave some shelving because it's holding up the roof,” said her daughters.
PLANS FOR FIRE-HIT COMPLEX
SHOPS RISE FROM ASHES
Ammanford's £ ½ million shopping complex gutted by fire last week, is to be rebuilt.
Speaking from his Margaret Street home, bookie Ken Howells said this week both the indoor market and the snooker hall above it would be rebuilt as soon as possible.
In partnership with his son Grant, son-in-law Alan and Alan's mother, Mrs. Enid James of Llandybie, Mr. Howells owned the former Co-op building in wind Street which had been converted into about 20 small shops and one large unit called Moneysavers.
The Snooker Hall on the first floor was run by Mr Howells' wife Muriel, but the partners also have snooker halls at Morriston and Church Village, Pontypridd.
Estimating the actual cost of the fire
damage is difficult, says Mr. Howells. But reports have stated figures of about £ ½ million.
“It's a question of rebuilding, he said. “I've got no idea what it would cost, but that is our intention.
“All the 20 stalls at Shopper's World were taken and our tenants were very pleased with the way trade was going. It had bucked up a lot in the last month. Both the café and the stall selling baskets and wicker work were being extended.
“The snooker hall was very popular and a summer league had been formed.”
As was his custom Mr. Howells looked in at the snooker hall on his way home form work last Wednesday.
I called at 9.15 pm on my way back from Swansea and all the tables were occupied. I left about half an hour later but at 11.10 pm I received a phone call from a member of staff to say that smoke was coming up over the roof of the rear of Moneysavers, Reg Vobe's shop.”
Mr. Howells said both Mr. Vobe and his son-in-law had been playing snooker at the Hall until 10.30 pm.
Mr. Howells was among a large crowd of spectators who watched the blaze which was eventually brought under control about 3 a.m..
Mr Howells has learnt the hard way that lightening can strike twice.
Ten years ago the Regal (also known as the Eriskay) at the to of Ammanford's Arcade in College Street was destroyed by fire. It housed a bingo hall, nightclub and restaurant. Mr. Howells was one of the three partners who owned it.
“I'm stunned,” he said, “It's something you can't really envisage – you think it always happens to someone else.”
BLAZE INQUIRY GOES ON
SAMPLES of debris from Shopper's World have been sent to the forensic science laboratory at Chepstow,
Ammanford's police chief has confirmed.
Questioned as to the likely cause of last week's blaze Chief Inspector Moelwyn Morgan, head of Ammanford sub-division said, “We are still keeping an open mind.
“We are carrying out inquiries and waiting for the result of forensic test. Samples have been sent to the forensic science laboratory for analysis.”
Last Thursday, the day after the fire, Dyfed Powys Police Authority's scenes of crime officer Detective Constable Bill Roberts of Llanelli together with Dyfed Fire Brigade officers sifted through the charred remains.
On Friday insurance assessors examined the gutted building and later that day demolition experts demolished the section fronting onto Wind Street because it was in a dangerous state.