Blaze at former Garrison site

AN investigation is under way after a suspicious blaze tore through a building on the former Colchester Garrison site.

The fire at the old officers’ club was reported shortly after 11pm last night and led to residents in the surrounding area being evacuated.

Essex Fire Service said that when crews arrived, the timber building, which measures 50 metres by 50 metres, was well alight.

Eight crews were called to the site, in St Johns Green, and tackled the blaze using five jets, one ground monitor and two covering jets.

More than 40 firefighters had worked in three sectors to tackle the flames.

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During attempts to battle the blaze, Station Offiver Martin Pullen said: “The building is still used as a club and it was in use earlier in the evening though no one was inside at the time of the fire.

“The club sits on the edge of the old Garrison site and is surrounding by quite a number of homes and a church and a few families living closest to the fire have been evacuated because of the potential risk of spread.

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“Crews are working to put out the fire and to protect surrounding properties from radiant heat and making good progress.”

By 1.45am crews reported that about 75% of the building had collapsed.

The incident was brought under control by 2.56am, however fire crews remain at the scene to ensure that there are no hot spots and no chance of re-ignition.

Divisional Officer Danny Fearn, Colchester and Tendering Community Commander, praised crews for their efforts.

He said: “This was a particularly large fire, which crews did well to bring under control relatively quickly. Their swift actions provided protection to a number of surrounding buildings and risks, keeping the community safe.”

A joint police and fire service investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire which is believed to be suspicious.

The building is home to a number of clubs and is a popular wedding reception location, but it is not yet known how many people will be affected by the blaze.

- If your wedding or club will be affected, contact us on or call our Colchester office on 01206 571275.

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