Fire crews stand down from church blaze

FIREFIGHTERS spent several hours battling a blaze in a church bell tower yesterday.

Fire fighters stood down from St Mary at the Elms church yesterday afternoon after spending much of the day damping down the balze.

The fire began in the base of the bell tower at about 8.40am.

Smoke was seen billowing from the roof of the church, in Elm Street, and six fire crews were called to the scene, using breathing apparatus, water fogs and the turntable ladder.

The fire was extinguished before 11am but smoke continued to billow from the top of the tower for sevearl hours.

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Fire crews dragged numerous items including smouldering furniture from the building.

Fire fighters confirmed that they were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to the main church building, but said there has been considerable damage to the insides of the tower.

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Karl Rolfe, Eastern Area Commander for the Suffolk Fire Service, said: “The blaze appears to have started in the bottom of the tower and spread upwards.

“We’re not sure what caused the fire but will carry out a full investigation as safe as it is soon to do so. At the moment there is no indication that it was started suspiciously.

“We believe that we’ve saved the main part of the church building, but parts of it have been smoke damaged.

“We are saving what we can from the tower area but further up the structure there is severe damage to timber work and a number of beams.

“It’s going to take some time to dampen down the building because there are so many individual hot spots - we could be here until nightfall.”

EDF Energy switched off electricity supplies to residents in the nearby area as a precaution while fire crews entered the church.

Today’s normal Sunday service at the church was due to be held outside the building.

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