Homes evacuated as firefighters tackle heath fire
Firefighters are tonight tackling a large fire on heathland at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich.
TEN families have been evacuated from their homes after a huge fire broke out on heathland in Ipswich.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service started receiving calls shortly after 9.30pm and a total of eight pumps have been sent to the scene on Martlesham Heath, off Dobbs Lane.
At its height, the blaze covered two hectares of heathland and 10 nearby homes have been emptied due to the intense smoke generated.
Firefighters from Colchester Road, Princes Street, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Needham Market and Felixstowe stations have been involved in the operation and used six main jets to tackle the flames.
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Officers from Suffolk Constabulary are manning road blocks for public safety and to enable access to the heath for other emergency vehicles.
The force's helicopter has also been involved in the operation, using a floodlight to assist the firefighting operation on the ground.
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A large police cordon is in place around the fire and residents in eight homes in The Oaks - about 200metres from the flames - have been asked to leave.
One resident, Mark Kendall, said he had been living in the street for 13 years and there were frequently fires on the heath, but this was the biggest he had seen.
He said: “The firemen came and knocked on my door and my wife answered. They asked us to move out - they were very non-pushy about it - they let me finish hosing down the plants in my garden.
“I have lived here for about 13 years and the fires used to be quite a common thing. We used to get quite a lot of them but they don't seem to be too common lately.
“This one was big but I don't think it ever got scary.”
Sergeant Jim Nicholls was manning the police cordon in The Oaks at about 10.45pm and said the blaze had been contained within a “bowl” on the heath after being carried toward the houses.
He said: “The cause is unknown at this stage - it's somewhere in the middle of the heath and the wind has pushed it in this direction.
“We have evacuated eight houses in the line of the fire. This is the biggest we have had for a while - there have been lots of calls but the fire service has got it in hand.”
At 11.25pm a fire service spokesman said: “The fire has slowed its progress and crews are reducing the fire fronts.”
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