WHITBY fire brigade squeezed their way along Upper Church Street last Friday after reports of smoke coming from the roof of a Henrietta Street building.
Despite suspicions that that source may have been Fortune’s Kippers smoke-house, the fire service followed procedure and scrambled to engines to the scene.
A fire spokesperson said: “Even though we suspected that’s what it was, we can’t ignore the call and so sent engines up there to check it out.”
For over 140 years Fortune’s Kippers has been lighting fires a couple of times each day to create its produce and owner Barry Brown says that when smoke escapes the building, the fire service occasionally arrives a few minutes later.
He said: “Even though we’ve got the sign outside the shop, it’s amazing how many people don’t realise.
“It isn’t locals, it’s visitors that report the smoke, but if they’re concerned then they have to phone it in.
“The fire crew have to respond and at the end of the day they do a great job.”
Fortune’s carefully managed fires can burn from 7am until late in the evening, but Mr Brown added that there is a simple way of distinguishing controlled burning from a legitimate emergency.
He said: “If there’s flames coming off the roof, then we have a problem.”
However, Mr Brown added that the incident did highlight a very serious problem, that of public vehicles parking illegally along the route.
The two fire appliances were unable to reach the smoke-house due to a car parked at the bottom of the 199 Steps.
There have been many calls from residents to pedestrianise the upper stretches of Church Street and Henrietta Street, a proposal that Mr Brown would support.
“If there was a fire they couldn’t have responded,” he said.
“The problem was they couldn’t get up the street because there was a car parked at the bottom of the steps.
“If it had been some of the cottages burning it would have been a different scenario.”
Mr Brown said he spotted the fire crew stuck at the bottom of the street and he was able to reassure them that the smoke had just escaped from his shop.
After a quick inspection the fire brigade left the scene by backing their engines all the way down Church Street, as they were unable to turn around.