Colchester high street fire said to be accident caused by contractors

Colchester High Street is currently closed while fire crews deal with a small fire Picture: ESSEX PO

Colchester High Street is currently closed while fire crews deal with a small fire Picture: ESSEX POLICE IN COLCHESTER - Credit: Archant

A fire which closed off part of Colchester’s high street on Thursday was caused by contractors, according to Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire in the roof of a building, understood to be the Co-Operative Bank, broke out shortly after 5pm.

Fire crews spent three hours on scene putting out the fire and cutting away smouldering beams in the building.

Now, firefighters have said they believe the fire was caused accidentally by contractors carrying out work at the site.

READ MORE: High street closed after fire crews called to rooftop

Station Manager Danny Partridge said:“This is an old building with a flat roof and large voids in the roof and between levels.

“The fire travelled across the flat roof undetected, towards an ornate glass dome, which worked to ventilate the fire and assist it spreading.

“The flames then spread down the voids on the first floor and towards the basement, which also left the building full of smoke.

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“We were fortunate that the current scaffolding and hoists surrounding the building assisted us in quickly moving our equipment and our firefighters to where they needed to be.

“I’m in no doubt that the initial crews saved this building. Their rapid actions, and the robust and dynamic tactics they demonstrated in tacking the fire were exceptional and made all the difference.

“The building has suffered sever damage to the roof and the voids on the first floor, though thankfully the ornate dome is still in tact and there was minimal water damage.

“We now know the fire was caused accidentally by contractors who were carrying out work.

“We think the initial sparks may have happened some time before but the fire went unnoticed.

“We did hear reports that people in the area may have suspected that there was a fire nearby but were unsure.

“My message to anyone would be to call us out if you have any suspicion at all that there’s a fire - even if you’re concerned it might be a false alarm it’s always best for us to come and check.”

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