THE ‘devastated’ owner of a beloved Northwich chippy has appealed for community support after the business was ravaged by a fat fire. 

Claire Linegar-Orange’s popular fish and chip shop, The Codfather on Manchester Road, Lostock Gralam, caught fire on Saturday morning, May 18.

Fire engines from Lymm, Middlewich, Birchwood, and Winsford all rushed to the much-loved takeaway, where they used breathing kit, hoses, a powder extinguisher, and covered jets to put out the blaze.

Eyewitnesses reporter significant traffic disruptions on Manchester Road and elsewhere in the town, and neighbouring properties on either side were evacuated.

Fire crews later used a thermal imaging camera and a gas monitor to check for signs of the fire spreading to nearby properties.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said they believe the fire originated in a deep fat fryer.

The business was started in 2008 by Claire's husband, Matthew Orange, who was tragically killed in a car crash in March 2020

Northwich Guardian: Smoke billowing from the back of The Codfather chippy on Manchester RoadSmoke billowing from the back of The Codfather chippy on Manchester Road (Image: Jase Patrick)

In a moving tribute issued shortly after, relatives called The Codfather 'his pride and joy', adding: "Every year he would continuously improve and strive to become the best chip shop in the UK."

The Codfather made it into National Fish and Chip Awards Top-60 chippies nationwide in 2017 to 2020, and was voted the town’s best chippy by readers of the Northwich & Winsford Guardian in 2016.

At 6pm on Saturday, Claire took to social media to express her gratitude no-one was hurt, though she said staff were ‘very shaken up’.

She went on to asks for support from her customers and followers while she and her staff get the business back on its feet again. 

Claire said: “We are truly devastated our amazing business has set on fire.

“The main thing is, all our staff are OK, and nobody was harmed although they are very shaken up.

“A big thank you to Alan, who did his best to save what he could.

“We will be working with the insurance company to get Matthew’s beloved chippy back up and running as soon as we can.

“At this terrible time, we would love your support whilst we rebuild our business.”

Claire’s appeal triggered more than 350 replies from residents and Codfather customers.

David Craig posted: “I was sorry to hear the sad news this afternoon. I’m glad you are planning to rebuild your fantastic business.

“I will look forward to you reopening in the future. Take your time, you all need to heal from the shock of today's event.”

Paula Martin added: “Devastating for you. The main thing is, you’re all safe. I hope the refurbishment will be speedy and without too much hassle, and you’re able to open again soon.

Graeme Keast said: “Truly gutted for you guys. You will rebuild and everyone will support you guys.”

A spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “At 11am on Saturday, May 18, crews were called to a fire in the ground floor of a commercial property on Manchester Road.

“Firefighters used six sets of breathing apparatus, one hose reel jet, a dry powder extinguisher and covering jets to tackle the fire.

“A thermal imaging camera and a gas monitor were also used to check for signs of the fire spreading to nearby properties.

“The fire is believed to have originated from a deep fat fryer.

“Neighbouring properties on either side of the building were evacuated as a precaution.”