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Fire at Teynham workshop left owners of FJ Williams 'devastated'

By John Nurden

Family joinery company FJ Williams, run by Fred Williams and his son David, went up in flames last night.

The workshop in London Road, Teynham, was gutted by the blaze which broke out just before 2am.

At its height, six fire crews including a height vehicle were on the scene.

Neighbours were also evacuated as a precaution.

The last crew from Aylesham left at 11am this morning after damping down the wreckage and using an infra-red camera to look for hot-spots.

Owner David Williams said: "I am devastated. The first I knew about it was when I got a call at home at 1.30am to say the workshop was on fire. That's as much as we knew.

Gutted: the remains of the FJ Williams joinery workshop in London Road, Teynham, after the fire
Gutted: the remains of the FJ Williams joinery workshop in London Road, Teynham, after the fire

"I am absolutely gutted. We had a full order book and were snowed under with work.

"We have let all our customers know but my other concern is for our staff. We have five."

The company, which has been on the site since the early 1990s, makes bespoke wood windows and doors.

Fred and David Williams, owners of the FJ Williams' joinery workshop which caught fire in Teynham in the early hours of Wednesday (Nov 7)
Fred and David Williams, owners of the FJ Williams' joinery workshop which caught fire in Teynham in the early hours of Wednesday (Nov 7)

The workshop's windows were blown out by the heat and the roof caved in.

Fire crew manager David Miller said the building was well alight when fire crews arrived and too dangerous to enter. They used a height vehicle to assess the damage from above and dowse it with water.

An investigation into the cause of the fire has been started.

The fire in Teynham started just before 2am. Picture: @jujujellybaby (5260984)
The fire in Teynham started just before 2am. Picture: @jujujellybaby (5260984)

An insurance assessor was on site today as staff began a huge clear-up operation. Many machines were lost in the blaze.

A neighbour, who didn't want to be named, said: "This has devastated the village. They are such a nice family."

One of the first on the scene was Border Force officer Olly Gibson who was driving home to Honeyball Walk, Teynham, after completing a shift in France.

Olly Gibson: first on the scene of the Teynham fire (5284155)
Olly Gibson: first on the scene of the Teynham fire (5284155)

He said: "As I came over the hill into the village I could see an orange glow and then as I got closer I could see a fire. It was raging and well alight with flames engulfing the building.

"It was like something from the apocalypse. There were flames, sparks and embers being blown across the road by the wind."

He and another motorist stopped, called 999 then tried to raise neighbours.

Teynham joinery workshop FJ Williams at the height of the blaze. Picture: Olly Gibson
Teynham joinery workshop FJ Williams at the height of the blaze. Picture: Olly Gibson

Dad-of-two Mr Gibson said: "We were going up and down the road knocking on doors.

"People were coming to the door groggy and in their pyjamas and bedclothes having been woken up. Some started helping us knock on other doors. Others were quite distressed and crying. At one point, there were 30 to 40 people from the village in the street.

"Some later told me they had heard noises but assumed it was fireworks. Others thought there might be gas cylinders in the building."

Mr Gibson said the first fire engine arrived from Sittingbourne after 10 minutes and others arrived from the Faversham direction.

He added: "It was so lucky no pets or people were hurt."

Lorry driver Paul Mercer from Sittingbourne was one of the first on the scene at the Teynham fire (5309068)
Lorry driver Paul Mercer from Sittingbourne was one of the first on the scene at the Teynham fire (5309068)

Lorry driver Paul Mercer, 41, from Glebe Lane, Sittingbourne, was the other motorist who stopped and raised the alarm. He had been on his way to work at Gist in Faversham in his Fiesta.

He said: "I could see a strange glow up ahead and as I got closer I saw sparks in the air then flames."

He called the fire service at 1.45am.

Flames burst through the roof of FJ Williams joinery in London Road, Teynham. Picture: Paul Mercer (5309079)
Flames burst through the roof of FJ Williams joinery in London Road, Teynham. Picture: Paul Mercer (5309079)

He said: "The flames were already going through the roof and the heat was extreme. We knocked on doors to get people out. About half-an-hour later there was a noise like thunder and the whole roof collapsed.

"It was like a disaster movie. There was ash and embers all over the road."

The A2 London Road was shut in both directions through the village between Station Road and Lynstead Lane from 2am to 7am while fire crews fought the blaze. Foam was sprayed around neighbouring properties to ensure the fire didn't spread.

Flames burst through the roof of FJ Williams joinery in London Road, Teynham. Picture: Paul Mercer (5309072)
Flames burst through the roof of FJ Williams joinery in London Road, Teynham. Picture: Paul Mercer (5309072)
Firefighters arrive to tackle the fire at FJ Williams joinery in London Road, Teynham. Picture: Paul Mercer (5309077)
Firefighters arrive to tackle the fire at FJ Williams joinery in London Road, Teynham. Picture: Paul Mercer (5309077)

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