Fire hits visitor and education centre in Great Cornard
PUBLISHED: 11:47 08 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:47 08 September 2018
Investigations by police and fire officers were taking place today after a blaze wrecked a visitor and education centre on the banks of the River Stour in Great Cornard, near Sudbury, early this morning.
The fire ripped through the building owned by the River Stour Trust in Dove House Meadow, next to Cornard Lock.
Up to 36 firefighters from Sudbury, Long Melford, Halstead, Clare and Bury St Edmunds were called out to the incident at 2.01am.
Officers from Suffolk police also attended the incident after they were alerted to the blaze along with staff from UK Power Networks who cut off the power supply to the area.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said people living nearby were advised to close their windows.
Simon Hurst, station commander based in Ipswich, said when crews arrived they were faced with a “well developed” fire at the building which measures 20 x 10 metres and which spread to the roof structure and the rest of the building.
He said: “Two crews from Sudbury initially turned up to fight the fire which was fairly well developed at the front part of the building, an enclosed balcony area, and we then had six pumps here eventually.
“The fire spread up the roof structure to the first floor where we have had damage within the first floor area of the property as well.
“We had up to 36 firefighters here at one stage tacking the blaze.”
He said he was not able to say what caused the blaze but that fire investigators were due at the scene later today along with scenes of crime officers.
“We have no idea how it started and they will be investigating the cause,” he added.
Catherine Burrows, the administor for the Trust, said the building had an office on the first floor with a meeting room on the ground floor which was used for educational purposes and meetings.
But much of the area had been totally destroyed by the blaze which tore through the building.
It had been hired out last night to Munro’s pop up restaurant Fish Dish.
Glen Mansbridge, who lives opposite the centre, said he was woken by the sound of the blaze and could see the building was well alight.
As a key holder for the site and a member of the Trust he went out to unlock the gates for the firefighters to gain access.
“I rushed downstairs and called the fire brigade. It was blazing away and I was expecting to see it completely burnt out but the fire crews kept it contained.”
Mr Mansbridge is also a committee member of the Bakers Mill Community Association which uses the centre for meetings but he said using the building for the near future was out of the question.
Neighbour Ronnie Hall said he was woken by a banging noise and went out to investigate when he saw the flames.
He said it was “quite exciting” for his two grandchildren, Austin and Sienna Holmes, who were staying with him, to witness the scene of the fire.