The family owners of the Ware store destroyed by fire have spoken of their “devastating” loss.
Deans Furnishers in Star Street had been owned by the Ambridge family for almost four decades before it was gutted by a huge fire yesterday (Thursday, August 31).
Tracey Ambridge, wife of current owner Dean, said: “It’s devastating, it’s a small business that has been going 40 years. To watch a lot of family history go up in smoke was heart breaking.
Established by Dean’s father Ron in 1976, it was taken over for two years in 1990 before returning to family ownership, although they do not own the building itself.
Mr Ambridge said: “It’s the only place I have ever worked in. Our children used to run around the beds – they spent hours in there playing.”
Many of their customers have been second or third generations.
Mrs Ambridge added: “We have had people saying I came in here years ago, when your dad was running it. It’s a very personal service.
There were still hotspots to eradicate this morning (Friday, September 1), before asbestos removal could be completed and investigations into the cause and the stability of the remaining structure to begin.
Mrs Ambridge said: “We can’t go in there because it’s not safe, but we have been told there’s nothing to retrieve. The firefighters said it reached 2,000 degrees inside.
“We have lost a lot of personal effects.”
Mr Ambridge arrived at the scene just as bystanders and neighbouring shops noticed the smoke and had called the fire service.
“I pulled into the car park and saw smoke billowing out of the shop. I knew immediately the building was going to burn down,” he said.
READ MORE: Live updates in the aftermath of Deans Furnishers fire in Ware
“I opened the door in the shutter and there was just black smoke.”
Mr Ambridge stepped through the door in an attempt to get to his computer, which contained crucial files, but was deterred by the flames inside.
Soon, he was then unable to do anything other than watch as firefighters tackled the flames.
Mr Ambridge’s brother travelled from Bury St Edmunds, his sister from Southend and his daughter from Hull to be at his side.
He also received support from his friends in Ware.
Sacha Bright, owner of Ware-based EQ Creative, has been working on creating a new website for Deans Furnishers.
He said: “His first thought was to let his customers know what was happening.”
Mr Bright has offered Mr Ambridge some office space to keep the business trading online and launched an appeal for donations.
“It would be good if we could get Dean back into the town somewhere. I knew him from buying my furniture there and he is a really nice chap.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
Everyone that donates a 20 per cent discount on future items purchased via the website.
Mr Ambridge said: “The support has been brilliant, within a couple of hours I had a temporary warehouse and office from Sacha,” he added.
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/deans-furnishers or to shop with Deans Furnishers, visit beds2go.co.uk
NEXT STORY: Watch Deans Furnishings warehouse in Ware crumble as fire takes hold
Source: Hertfordshire Live