Fire closes West Somerset Free Press office

The West Somerset Free Press’s head office in Williton is closed after a fire there in the early hours on Monday morning.

Williton firefighters spent several hours tackling the blaze and contained it to three of our offices, with smoke damage throughout the rest of the building.

Our reception area and advertisement sales office on the ground was hit, as was a meeting room and the adjoining editor’s office on the first floor.

We were left with no power, telephones or computers, and properties in the village centre were without electricity for several hours.

With the office unusable - it will be closed for some time - staff spent Monday salvaging the computers which had survived the fire. Unfortunately, our main file server and other key equipment is kept in the editor’s office and was badly damaged.

But there were enough working computers for us to set up a small production department at our branch office in Minehead, where our advertisement sales staff are also working from.

Editorial staff are working from the offices of our sister paper, the Wellington Weekly News, and from an office in Watchet, and our aim is to publish as usual this week.

West Somerset Council helped us by providing some office space on Monday where we could set up and test or surviving computers, and we are grateful to other businesses for their offers of help.

"We are indebted to our local firefighters for the job they did in preventing a bad situation from being even worse," said editor Gareth Purcell.

"We often report on the great job they do, and we now have first-hand experience of just how good they are."

The cause of the fire, which started in the reception area, is not yet clear.

We’ll bring you any updates, but our aim this week is to carry on as normally as we can, publishing the Free Press on Friday as usual and also producing the Wellington Weekly News. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel this week’s News-Trader.

Readers and advertisers can contact us at our Minehead office on 01643 709746 or 01643 702187, and our two main email addresses - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - are both available.

Pin It