Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 12°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Video and gallery: Homes evacuated as blaze sweeps through old garrison building in Roman Circus Walk, Colchester

12:16 13 April 2014

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze at the old garrison site in Colchester. Photo: Darius G Laws.

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze at the old garrison site in Colchester. Photo: Darius G Laws.

Archant

Evacuees have described waking to “apocalyptic” scenes as flames engulfed a derelict garrison building in Colchester, forcing them from their homes.

shares

Around 30 people living near the former Grade II listed building in Roman Circus Walk were told to leave their homes as fire raged through the Sergeants’ Mess.

Keith Gilligan, 31, was at home with his wife and their four-year-old son when they were woken by police at 1am.

“There was a really thick black smoke, you couldn’t see much and it was really heavy on your chest,” said Mr Gilligan, who described the scenes as “apocalyptic”.

The family gathered at a neighbour’s house with around 20 other evacuees while Colchester Borough Council prepared temporary accommodation for them at Leisure World on Cowdray Avenue.

Georgina Barthaud, 20, was in town with friends when her boyfriend called to say the building beside his flat was on fire.

“He said the air was very hazy and the next moment the police were knocking on the door saying we need you out,” she said.

“At the time it just looked like it was a small fire but after he went to get a change of clothes, he came back and it had shot up in flames - he’d never seen anything like it.

“It panicked me because it’s right next to the flat and as I was walking back from town I could see a big black cloud of smoke.”

Three fire crews from Colchester and appliances from West Mersea, Tiptree, Coggeshall and Tollesbury fought the blaze for several hours, containing it half way along the 63m x 30m block.

Assistant divisional officer Paul Gardner said: “When we arrived we were faced with a well developed fire raging in the ground floor of the building. Crews have done an excellent job in getting on top of the fire.”

A retired sergeant, formerly stationed at the garrison, said it was a “terrible” sight as he surveyed the burnt out shell.

“It was a lovely building and it’s a real shame this has happened,” he added.

Following a spate of fires at historic buildings in thee town, including this Victorian gymnasium near Abbey Field, Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell has called upon the borough council to “demand” that owners make their buildings more secure.

“This building is part of the rich heritage of the Army in Colchester and was one of the buildings which the council, along with English Heritage, insisted should be retained,” he said.

“Therefore the borough council must take firm action against the owner of the property.”

The mess, which was built in the mid 19th Century, is owned by housing developers Taylor Wimpey.

shares

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

The Orwell Bridge in Suffolk

A body believed to have fallen from the Orwell Bridge near Ipswich has been recovered.

Cheryl Thayer, Chair of Macmillan Woolverstone Fundraising Commitee, Nick hulme Chief Executive of Ipswich Hospital, Mandy Jordan and Helen Glenholmes of Macmillan look around the new extension which is being built.

Fundraisers from across Suffolk were praised yesterday as it was revealed an ambitious appeal to create a new cancer centre at Ipswich Hospital had reached £300,000 in just seven months.

Ipswich Town fans in fine voice at Watford. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Top-end ticket prices for Ipswich Town Championship games have emerged as some of the most expensive in the league.

Ed Hawkins has been training celebrities for the new TV show 'Flock Stars'. Ed is pictured in Chelsworth.

He’s used to the challenges of a life outdoors – braving rain, wind and even snow to look after his sheep in bucolic rural Suffolk.

A pig and four chickens have been stolen from a field in Sudbury.

Curve Motion in Bury St Edmunds is a good day out for the kids.

Sadly, rainy days are not a rare thing when it comes to the Great British Summer, so when the heavens open we are well-stocked with things to do.

A stack of straw bales was deliberately set alight in Little Wratting on Monday night.

Carl Robbins

The search for a prisoner who absconded from Hollesley Bay earlier this month is still ongoing.

Don't believe the message that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable

There’s something about Jez (as we hip young things on social media call Jeremy Corbyn) that thoroughly warms my cockles. Perhaps it’s his air of humility, his open-necked honesty or simply his dogged under-dogness?

Dogs line up for judging at the Suffolk and Essex Small Animal Welfare Fun Dog Show.

More than 300 people turned out to support a local animal charity at its annual open day – despite the inclement weather.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages