IT COULD be months before a doctors surgery in Mid Cheshire is back to normal following a devastating fire triggered by vandals.
The fire caused extensive damage to the surgery off Northwich Road, Weaverham, and left a layer of soot over everything.
Initial estimates have put the cost of the damage at more than £50,000.
The blaze wrecked an office at the rear of the building and spread to the roof, causing a suspended ceiling to collapse and exposing live wires.
Four windows were blown out in the fierce blaze and the adjoining reception area was badly damaged by heat and smoke.
Office equipment and furnishings will have to be replaced and the building will need re-carpeting and redecorating.
Staff, including several doctors, rallied round to help with the initial clear-up, coming in on their day off with mops and buckets to try to get the place ready for patients the following day.
Several minor operations had to be cancelled but all the surgeries went ahead, though one had to be temporarily switched to another room.
A Portakabin is currently serving as a temporary office and other office workers are having to share the waiting room with patients.
Practice manager Freda O'Connor said: 'It is so upsetting that someone would want to start a fire at a doctors surgery serving 8,000 people.
'The conditions we have had to work in since the fire have been very unpleasant but the staff have been simply marvellous.
'If all goes according to plan, we are hoping that repairs can start by next week, but we think it could be months before we are fully operational.'
In addition to rallying round to help their patients, doctors and staff are preparing to climb Snowdon on May 15 to raise money for St Luke's Hospice. Donations can be handed in at the surgery.