Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 14°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

Lord Deben John Gummer, Christine Block, from Deben Estuary Partnership, Karen Thomas, from Water Management Alliance, Graham Henderson, from DEP, Simon Amstutz, from AONB, Therese Coffey MP, David Kemp from the Environment Agency, and Suffolk Coastal District Councillor Andy Smith gathered to launch the Deben Estuary Plan.

Three years of work have created a new community-led blueprint to protect and manage one of Suffolk’s treasures, the River Deben estuary

Detectives investigating a burglary at a home in Colchester have issued an efit of a man they would like to identify in connection with the incident.

Age UK is looking for volunteers to take part in a video

Bosses at Age UK Suffolk are looking for 10 older people to take part in a new promotional video that is being made to show off the work of the charity.

Andrew Gaskell, who was almost totally paralised in a scrum accident playing for Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club in 1998, lost body hair in a bid to raise £5.500 for a standing wheelchair.

A former Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club player who was partially paralysed in a scrum accident 17 years ago has gone for the smooth-bodied look in a bid to raise more than £5,000 for a specialist piece of equipment.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train at Colchester

Rail delays at Colchester have been caused by a broken down train.

Rendlesham Care Centre rated ‘good’ by CQC (L-R) Danielle Brown, Administrator; Liz Slight, Home Manager; Maxine Crisp, Carer; Fabian Lossa, Carer; Rachael Last, Receptionist

Rendlesham Care Centre was found to provide a safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led service according to the CQC report.

A diversion has been put in place

Severe traffic delays in Chelmsford have been caused by a traffic collision.

Woodbridge Carnival fireworks 2015.

People in an east Suffolk town are being asked to vote with their cash if they want a fireworks display next year.

Station Hill in Bury St Edmunds, which is being redeveloped.

Plans for more than 100 flats near the train station in Bury St Edmunds - an area of the town that is earmarked for regeneration - have been recommended to be refused.

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey (centre) with members of her team and Fern Howard (left) from the Alzheimer’s Society

It follows a visit by the Alzheimer’s Society, who run the Dementia Friends scheme, to help Dr Coffey and her staff understand the effect of dementia on everyday lives.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages