Man dies in blaze at Duns industrial estate

Police Officer and Fire Incident Commander outside the Wicken Fen factory
Police Officer and Fire Incident Commander outside the Wicken Fen factory

A 37-YEAR-OLD man has died after a fire in a food factory in the Duns Industrial Estate.

Fire crews were called to Wicken Fen on Station Road Industrial Estate at around 11.15pm on Sunday night and found the body of Brian Newton at the scene.

Fire Engine outside the Wicken Fen building, Duns.

Fire Engine outside the Wicken Fen building, Duns.

Brian, from Greenlaw, was the only one in the building at the time, and as well as confirming he was an employee of Wicken Fen, a spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Police told ‘The Berwickshire News’ that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Around 60 firefighters battled the blaze through the night at the single storey food processing factory.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway and Fire Service group manager Wille Allison said Sunday’s blaze was definitely a difficult one for firefighters to contend with.

He commented: “At the height of the blaze there were seven appliances at the premises. Crews from Duns, Coldstream, Eyemouth, Kelso, Galashiels and Lauder were all involved in the operation as well as three specialist units from Edinburgh.

“Due to the nature of the building and the intensity of the fire it took a lot of effort to get it under control and they did well to do so in two hours.

“It was a difficult call out for everyone involved and obviously everyone is upset that someone has lost their life.

“The fire was a particularly ferocious one and as a result the structure is very unstable. This has prevented us from carrying out a thorough investigation. Discussions have taken place with a company with a view to them coming and stabilising the building so we can proceed.”

Confirming their part in the investigation, a spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Police and fire officers are now investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire and enquiries are at an early stage.

“Tragically, the fire resulted in a fatality and we are now investigating along with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue to establish the events that led to a man’s death.

“Anyone with information that can assist with the investigation is asked to contact police immediately.

Police are currently trying to piece together Brian’s movements on Sunday and are keen to hear from anyone who saw him or spoke to him anytime from Saturday night to Sunday evening.

Responding to the tragic news of Brian’s unfortunate death, local MP Michael Moore said: “My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of the worker who lost his life in Duns.

“The emergency services were valiant in their efforts and will continue to work hard to understand the cause of the fire. But for now condolences go to the family who have suffered such a tragic loss.”

Wicken Fen, owned by Berwick couple Paul and Claire Weeks, has been making gourmet vegetarian foods from the purpose-built factory in Duns since 1994 , supplying a number of supermarkets, delicatessens and health food chains with their award-winning healthy, low fat products.

Accolades taken home by the company in recent years include one from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for their mushroom and tarragon sausages.