Arson investigation following massive fire at derelict Odeon Cinema in Colchester
More than 60 firefighters tackled a blaze in Colchester at the former Odeon cinema in Crouch Street in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Essex Fire and Rescue Service has determined the cause of the blaze to have been deliberate.
Crews were called to the fire at around 1.46am on Sunday to find the derelict building ‘25% alight’ and filled with smoke.
A search was carried out to make sure no one was inside while crews fought the fire with hose reel jets.
Residents living nearby were urged to close windows and doors due to the amount of smoke pouring out of the burning building.
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A total of ten fire engines - from Colchester, Tiptree, Manningtree, Brightlingsea, Coggeshall, Chelmsford and Clacton - were sent to fight the fire.
At the height of the blaze 67 firefighters were on scene.
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Terry Povey, incident commander, said: “When crews first got here they were confronted with 25% of the building being alight but the entire premises was completely smoke-logged.
“That was very resource intensive for us, we have had a lot of firefighters here.
“At the peak we had 67 on ten fire appliances.”
Power was cut to 21 homes as a safety precaution until 10.30am while the building was hosed down.
A stop was finally called at around 9am although the building remained heavily smoke logged so crews used a high-powered ventilation fan to clear it.
Speaking after the fire had been put out, Mr Povey said: “Our crews have worked extremely hard throughout the night to tackle the fire.
“As part of our efforts it was essential that we carried out a search for anyone inside as it is known that homeless people sometimes visit the building.
“I can confirm that following a search no one was found to be inside.
“The fire has now been extinguished and we will remain on site to check for hot spots.”
The former Odeon cinema, which first opened in 1931, had remained abandoned for a number of years.