December 13 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 28, 2013
Firefighters have been praised for their skill in battling the “perfect storm” of destruction at a property on the Suffolk coast.
Wind, wood and flames combined on Sunday evening to spread fire from an outbuilding to a neighbouring home in Ferry Road, Southwold.
Artist Emily Whalley and sculptor Nick Pratt were at home when the blaze started in a former workshop, which was used to store Mr Pratt’s work. Both were forced to flee the timber-framed building, where they have lived for almost 30 years.
Dozens of firefighters tackled the blaze for more than four hours but were unable to prevent extensive damage to the property.
Station commander Ian Mallet, from Ipswich East, said: “It was difficult due to the wind, the type of building and the surrounding risks.
“We were reliant on wind direction and speed but it blew the worst possible way, towards the property, where the flames travelled through the wall cavities and into the loft, causing extensive damage.
“The wind was almost fuelling the fire by fanning the flames.”
Mr Mallet said the proximity of surrounding buildings, including the Casa Mia Piano Bar, known locally as the Dutch Barn, was a major concern, with crews remaining at the scene into the night to ensure the blaze was fully extinguished.
Southwold mayor Simon Tobin, a former retained firefighter, said: “With the wind blowing so fiercely up, I was incredibly impressed with the fire service’s reaction and their ability to stop further, potentially catastrophic damage.”
Adrian Spray, who was visiting from Birmingham for the weekend and witnessed the fire, said: “The flames were soon quite apparent and a second structure was fully ablaze. It would have clearly spread had the fire service not been so efficient.”
The fire is not being treated as suspicious. For guidance on fire safety at home, visit suffolk.gov.uk