Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 8°C

min temp: 5°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

Firefighters extinguished a chimney blaze near Hadleigh on Wednesday night.

Strawberry Stores in Sudbury was hit by an armed robber

An 18-year-old man was arrested in Sudbury following an armed robbery at a convenience store in the town this afternoon.

The land on Church Lane, Claydon.

Proposals for a travellers’ site to the edge of a Suffolk village have been refused by the planning authority.

Essex Police escort a delegation from the Saudi embassy during a visit to Salary Brook in Greenstead, Colchester, to see the scene where Nahid Almanea was killed last June.

Detectives investigating the murder of Nahid Almanea met with officials from the Kingdom Saudi Arabia (KSA) in Colchester today.

Shirley Ison may have made a fatal error which caused her car to collide with a tree

Driver error is believed to be the cause of a road accident in which a woman was killed, it was ruled this week.

Easter fun at Kesgrave Library. Tabitha and Sebastion Degiorgio.

Eggs – chocolate and real ones – were on everyone’s minds as a library held a family event to mark the Easter season.

Extra trains for ITFC Fans

Extra train services have been arranged for Ipswich Town fans on Good Friday.

Hagon pleaded guilty to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday, March 31 to two years and eight months imprisonment and disqualified from driving for five years, after which he must take an extended test, Essex Police said.

A driver has been jailed for two years and eight months following a serious collision in High Garrett, near Braintree.

Planners have refused homes on vacant land at Felixstowe's Haven Exchange site.

Proposals for 61 homes near the Port of Felixstowe have been refused because of the need to keep as much employment land available as possible.

Chelmsford Crown Court

A woman has been left permanently disabled after a driver who had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs smashed into her car.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages