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Firefighters tested to limits as Suffolk hit by five large open-air blazes within hours

PUBLISHED: 13:46 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 19:13 03 July 2018

The fire has broken out near Hengrave Hall Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

The fire has broken out near Hengrave Hall Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Dozens of fire crews from across Suffolk and beyond were called upon to tackle five large open-air fires which broke out in the space of a few hours on Tuesday.

The first blaze started in Brandon Country Park, near Thetford, at about 11.50am.

Five engines attended the forest fire the cause of which was believed to have been related to the hot, dry weather.

Less than an hour later, another fire broke out 12 miles away in Hengrave just north west of Bury St Edmunds.

The blaze was reported to have started shortly before 12.40pm, just off Bury Road, not far from Hengrave Hall.

Firefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave.

PICTURE: Andy AbbottFirefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave. PICTURE: Andy Abbott

At one point, the standing crop fire was said to be “moving rapidly” close to the Tudor mansion.

The incident led to road closures and a major emergency response, with police called to cordon off the A1101 between The Three Kings Inn, at Fornham St Martin, and Flimpton village.

By 4pm, the flames were extinguished and Hengrave Hall was no longer at any risk, but two fire crews remained on scene to take care of any remaining ‘hot spots’

Firefighting resources had been drafted in from as far away as Woodbridge joined by more local crews from Haverhill and Mildenhall, whose station colleagues were called to take on an equally large-scale blaze, reported moments after the Hengrave incident, in a field near Mildenhall.

Firefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave.

PICTURE: Andy AbbottFirefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave. PICTURE: Andy Abbott

Again, the flames kept firefighters occupied for more than two hours, and required the assistance of crews from across the county border in Cambridge.

Seven engines attended the fire, which destroyed and damaged trees near Mildenhall Woods.

A further five crews were then called to tackle a fire in a crop field off Tye Lane, in Bramford, near Ipswich.

The blaze broke out at about 2.10pm and required the attendance of the multi-purpose all-wheel drive Unimog fire vehicle.

Firefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave.

PICTURE: Andy AbbottFirefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave. PICTURE: Andy Abbott

By about 3.30pm, firefighters had the flames surrounded and were able to bring them under control at the same time as the response in Hengrave and Mildenhall was scaled down.

Little more than an hour later, fire broke out 10 miles south, in Brantham, near Manningtree.

Two Manningtree fire crews were joined at the scene, off Slough Road, by colleagues from stations in Ipswich.

Firefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave.
A heat haze over the field as firefighters tackle the fire
PICTURE: Andy AbbottFirefighters attending the fire in standing corn near Hengrave. A heat haze over the field as firefighters tackle the fire PICTURE: Andy Abbott

The emergency response to fires across Suffolk included 12 fire engines at Hengrave, six in Mildenhall and eight in Bramford.

Two fire engines fought a fire in 100m of grass verge in Farnham, while three fought a fire in stubble and grass in Uggeshall, and five attended two separate road traffic collisions.

The response involved 999 control staff in Cambridgeshire, firefighters in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, police and ambulance colleagues, and fire and rescue non-operational staff.

Richard Rout, Suffolk’s public protection chief, said: “As well as our partners, we would also like to give special mention to the employers of our on-call firefighters. The willingness of employers to release their staff for firefighter duties is a fantastic tribute to their community spirit and allows us to keep Suffolk safe.”

Mark Hardingham, chief fire officer,said: “With the extreme hot and dry weather to continue throughout the Wimbledon fortnight, the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service encourages everyone to be extra vigilant.

“Be aware of fire risks when you are out in the open, especially near to standing crop, crop stubble or trees and undergrowth, all of which is currently tinder dry.”

Those enjoying barbecues in the open are also advised to be aware of their safety and surroundings, and to extinguish them properly.


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