THIRTY chickens died in a fire at an industrial unit in Great Staughton.

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A BUSINESSMAN has been left with nothing after a devastating fire caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and killed his poultry livestock,

Andrew Jarvis built up his chicken coop manufacturing business from scratch over four years. It was destroyed in a matter of hours along with 30 chickens when a fire ripped through his workshop in the Little America Industrial Estate in Moor Road, Great Staughton, on Sunday night.

Firefighters are investigating the cause of the blaze, but Mr Jarvis, a father of two, fears it could have been arsonists. Over the same weekend raiders stole carpets and tools from neighbouring business The Washing Room after breaking the doors open with a vehicle.

Mr Jarvis says he has been left without an income until after Christmas and is appealing for help to keep his business Chirpy Coops going.

The 35-year-old of Nene Road, Huntingdon, started the business from his garden shed before moving to the unit three years ago. He supplied hand-made chicken coops, pet enclosures, hen houses, rabbit hutches and panels to customers across the country.

He said: “It was extremely popular, that is why it is so devastating. All my stock was in there. Now I have got nothing left.

“I have insurance, but it is a long process. I spoke to some insurance man and he told me they could not help until after Christmas.

“I have two kids and a mortgage to pay. How am I going to cope until then? I have not got a clue why the fire started. I turned off all the electrics. There is nothing in there that could have caused a fire.

“If somebody did break in, why did they set fire to the place when they knew I had chickens in there? Why did somebody do that?

“I have spent the past few days running around, trying to see if I can get back on my feet. I am desperate.”

The chickens were trapped inside when propane cylinders at the unit caught fire, and firefighters had to tackle the blaze from the outside. A kit car inside the building was also destroyed by the flames.

Crews from St Ives, St Neots and Huntingdon were called to the fire at around 9.45pm.

Among the lost goods were £5,000 worth of tools, £7,000 worth of stock and two children’s trikes. Some of the chickens were due to be sold, while others were family pets.

Gary Mitchley, incident commander, said: “Firefighters managed to stop the fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings and also managed to salvage the cylinders without them going off.

“However, they were unable to save the building itself.”

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