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Fire at Jilly's Dry Cleaners in Broad Street, Deal

By Beth Robson

The distraught owners of a fire ravaged dry cleaners fear their popular business is unsalvageable.

Jamie Stenhouse, who owns Jilly's Dry Cleaners with wife Jilly said the pair feel "empty" after flames tore through their Broad Street premises in the early hours.

The alarm was raised at 4.31am and crews in three fire engines battled the fire with a a hose reel jet, two main jets and water from the hydrant.

The road was closed and has since reopened after they stood the operation down at 8.31am.

Meanwhile an investigation is underway to determine the cause.

This morning, the couple awoke to a nightmare and are facing the grim reality that their livelihood is gone.

Distraught and empty: Jamie Stenhouse of Jill's Dry Cleaners after a fire has devastated the business in Broad Street
Distraught and empty: Jamie Stenhouse of Jill's Dry Cleaners after a fire has devastated the business in Broad Street

Walls, equipment and clothing inside are blackened from what Mr Stenhouse described as a "freak accident".

He said: "We think it was a spontaneous combustion in a bin of tea towels that had been washed and dried.

"We are always careful when we take them out to make sure they're cold

"Some must have been warm, smouldered away, and bang, it's gone up."

Machinery is damaged and the walls are blackened at Jill's in Broad Street
Machinery is damaged and the walls are blackened at Jill's in Broad Street

For 15 years they ran Jilly's in Park Street.

They opened in 2005 basing their venture on Mrs Stenhouse's experience working at a dry cleaning chain.

In October they moved to the new rented premises in Broad Street having co-operated with Aldi which is undergoing a supermarket building project at the former Co-operative.

Glass was sashed during the blaze
Glass was sashed during the blaze

Businesses from Park Street's parade of shops moved out to other premises in town to allow for the demolition works, which are ongoing.

The fire has spoiled what was supposed to be an exciting new phase for Jilly's in its new home.

Today Mr Stenhouse has so far revealed there is damage to the main dry-cleaning machine and a steam cabinet, a press table and washing machine.

The clean up operation is underway at Jilly's Dry Cleaners but the owners fear for its future
The clean up operation is underway at Jilly's Dry Cleaners but the owners fear for its future

There is smoke damage to all seven rooms upstairs. The flat above was vacant so there were no casualties.

Customers who had left their property with them should get in touch by going into the shop and they will reimburse them.

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