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Colchester: 40 soldiers rehoused after blaze in accommodation block at Merville Barracks

PUBLISHED: 17:14 18 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:14 18 March 2014

Damage to an accommodation block at Merville Barracks, Colchester.

Damage to an accommodation block at Merville Barracks, Colchester.

Crown Copyright 2014: This image may be used for current news purposes only.

More than 40 soldiers have had to be rehoused at Colchester Garrison after a blaze in the early hours of this morning.

Firefighters were called to an accommodation block at Merville Barracks in Roman Road just after 2.30am and found the third floor of the building was heavily smoke-logged.

Crews from Colchester, Mersea and Tiptree and the aerial ladder platform were scrambled to the scene and found the Army had already evacuated dozens of people.

Station officer Pete Donovan, from Colchester fire station, said: “When crews arrived approximately 50 people had already been evacuated to safety by the Army.

“Several neighbouring accommodation blocks had also been evacuated as a precaution.

“The fire was on the third floor of the block and had started in a bathroom and it had spread into the corridor of the accommodation wing.

“The crews efforts contained the fire to the top floor and prevented the fire from spreading throughout the building.”

The flames were brought under control through firefighters using two hose reels and one main jet by 5.40am.

The second floor was ventilated of smoke while the aerial ladder platform and a thermal image camera were used to check if the fire had spread into the loft area.

A Colchester Garrison spokesman said around 40 soldiers’ living quarters had been affected but that they were already in alternative accommodation within the camp.

He added: “Evacuation procedures had been correctly followed and all personnel were safely out of the building and neighbouring blocks before fire crews arrived. No-one was injured.

“The building suffered extensive water and smoke damage and alternative accommodation will be provided for the soldiers while the building is repaired.

“The cause of the fire is believed to be an electrical fault and an investigation is being carried out by Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation and Essex Country Fire and Rescue Service.”

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