The Ivybridge community has rallied around Rochelle’s River Cafe after a fire devastated their storage facilities earlier this month. 

Jo Franchet, director and owner of the cafe said: “It was truly devastating.  We’d only just had the whole terrace remade and the purpose-built storage/refrigeration shed as part of the build.”

She added: “I think persevering is the word (I would use)... The bright side to look on is that it happened at night, nobody was harmed, it didn’t spread and it was put out quickly and efficiently. 

“My staff are all marvellous and will now be working in a potentially even more stressful environment than normal, but they are all great and I’m very proud of the whole team here. “

Devon and Somerset Fire dispatched crews from Crownhilll, Ivybridge and Modbury to battle the blaze.

A spokesperson for the fire service said: "At 1.20am on November 1 we were called to Glanvilles Mill in Ivybridge where an outbuilding being used as a storage area was alight. Crews from Crownhilll, Ivybridge and Modbury used breathing apparatus and water jets to extinguish the fire and ensure it did not spread to surrounding buildings. The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental."

After the hardships the fire has caused, the community has rallied around the cafe. Local people have conveyed their support for the cafe and its team, showcasing the strong community ties in Ivybridge.

Jo said: “The community have been amazing and very supportive indeed.  We’ve had lots of reactions to the fire on our Facebook page. Many of the community have watched the rebuild closely over the past two years and were pleased to see the improvements and get to use the new terrace etc. so it almost feels as much of a personal loss to them as to us. 

“They are really pleased that we are still trading and that the fire didn’t spread at all and have been very supportive both in terms of words and footfall.  

“Ivybridge has a great community which really binds together and is very close so its a really lovely place to be part of and we love having our cafe right in the heart of it all.”

The cafe closed at 3pm and as no one is on site after they have locked up the mall, they suspect it was the result of an electrical appliance fault.

Jo said: “Fortunately the shed was very robustly built and insulated so the whole fire was contained within the shed for the majority of its time until it broke through the roof.  Some glazing opposite the shed and our rear patio doors glazing has been damaged by the heat, but fortunately it did not spread to anywhere else as Devon Fire & Rescue did a great job and made sure it was all out safely.” The fire service left the scene around 5am. 

The cafe is open for business, but nothing can be touched or removed from the affected area until the insurance companies are finished with the site and have completed any investigations they wish to undertake. 

Jo said: “Running the cafe now without 90% of our refrigeration and storage for stock makes it very difficult, as we cannot back up or prep anything any longer as we have no space. The chefs are working twice as hard as usual.”