Blaze tears through block of flats

TWELVE households were evacuated last night after a fierce blaze ripped through a block of flats.Two homes were completely destroyed in a devastating fire in Downside Close, Ipswich, which started soon after 7pm.

By Jonathan Barnes

TWELVE households were evacuated last night after a fierce blaze ripped through a block of flats.

Two homes were completely destroyed in a devastating fire in Downside Close, Ipswich, which started soon after 7pm.

No-one was hurt in the blaze but residents of the 12 flats were in temporary accommodation last night as firefighters made sure the building was safe.


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The housing association which owns the block of flats and Ipswich Borough Council were making arrangements to house the residents last night.

The blaze began in a third-floor flat and spread quickly to its neighbouring apartment through the roof space as more than 30 firefighters fought back the flames.

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Neighbours reported hearing two loud explosions, flames shooting into the sky and thick black smoke filling the cul-de-sac.

Graham Baker, 47, managed to escape the blaze with his wife and 15-year-old daughter, but was facing up to losing his home of 19 years last night.

"The fire started next door. My wife smelt smoke and I went round to the balcony and had a look," he said.

"I tried to fight it with a fire extinguisher but I really didn't stand much of a chance, so we ran down the stairs and got out. I managed to get one of our cats out but I couldn't find the other one."

The construction worker added: "I didn't think about grabbing anything, we just got out of there. Now we have lost everything – I wish I could go back in just to get my keys.

"I haven't been told anything about where I'm going tonight. I've had an offer from my brother-in-law so I think I will go there."

The couple who lived in the two-bedroom flat where the fire began were not in the building at the time. They were too upset to talk last night.

Six fire engines squeezed into the close as the blaze took hold and residents spilled out on to the road and pavement to watch the fire being fought.

The Salvation Army and the Red Cross were called to the scene to offer counselling to the families left homeless.

Divisional Officer John Wilcock, of Suffolk Fire Service, said: "We have advised the housing association that nobody stays in this building tonight.

"We completely evacuated the building straightaway. It was a rapidly developing fire and both flats are completely destroyed. It is too early to say what caused the fire but an investigation will be held."

He added: "We sent two pumps to the fire but realised that we needed assistance and called for the turntable ladder. It was getting away from us so we made pumps six.

"It is very difficult in buildings like this because there are split levels and it can be very disorientating –it was it very hard for the breathing apparatus teams."

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