Couple vows to rebuild Halifax cafe after freak fire causes severe damage

A couple have vowed to rebuild their café business after their premises were gutted in a freak overnight blaze.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:00 pm

An electrical fault in a fridge freezer started a fire which ripped through Sweet Delight in Shay Lane, Holmfield. Fortunately, no-one who lives in the four flats above or a house at the side were hurt.

The café was completely destroyed inside and the building will need a new roof and internal and external works.

The cost of the damage has been estimated at up to £175,000, around £80,000 of which is the claim for damage and disruption to the café business, run by James Barry and partner Natasha Parry.

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James Barry and Natasha Parry vow to rebuild their fire-ravaged cafe, Sweet Delight @ The Mill Cafe, Shay Lane

James said: “The café is gutted but it was nobody’s fault and no-one was hurt. We are insured, though not for the full amount, and our insurance claim is likely to be £60,000 to £80,000. The rest will be the landlord’s claim for the building.”

The popular 30-seat café, which could serve up to 120 breakfasts on a Saturday, had operated as a takeaway and delivery service seven days a week in lockdown.

The manager locked up at 8pm on Thursday April 8 and at 6.15am the following morning the landlord rang James to tell him the café was on fire.

When James arrived there were seven fire engines, four ambulances and several police cars. James said fire investigators found that the blaze was caused by an electrical fault in a fridge freezer. The appliance got hot inside and melted the plastic door seal. That allowed air inside and caused the fridge to burst into flames.

The damage is still being assessed but the ceilings have come down and internal walls will have to be rebuilt. Repair work could take four months.

Most staff from Holmfield have been found work at the couple’s other branch, Sweet Delight in Sowerby Bridge, and the opening hours for the delivery service have been extended to cater for customers from the Illingworth, Boothtown and Mixenden areas.

The Shay Lane café opened in September 2019 and was just getting established. “It’s a kick in the teeth,” said James. “But we will be back.”