Homes evacuated in garage fire drama

FIFTY firefighters battled a blaze at a Suffolk garage last night which saw nearby homes evacuated and a 200m exclusion zone thrown around the scene after it was feared the flames may ignite explosive canisters.

FIFTY firefighters battled a blaze at a Suffolk garage last night which saw nearby homes evacuated and a 200m exclusion zone thrown around the scene after it was feared the flames may ignite explosive canisters.

Emergency services were called to the Rodbridge Car Centre in Long Melford at 5.10pm, where they found a work shop well alight.

The fire then spread from the 80 square metre timber framed building to a neighbouring shed, where highly flammable gases and tyres were stored.

As a result, fire chiefs decided to evacuate homes close by and in total 15 houses were cleared.


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There had been no one inside the garage and most displaced residents found alternative accommodation.

At the peak of the blaze 50 firefighters fought the flames, manning eight fire engines and four specialist appliances including the rotating ladder.

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Speaking at the scene Assistant Divisional Officer Jon Illingworth, said: “The first appliance arrived here at about 5.15pm.

“As the building was timber framed the fire spread quickly to the roof and the turntable ladder and further appliances were requested.

“We were then struggling for water and it became a difficult operation. The fire then spread to another premise we believed may have contained acetylene canisters so we evacuated to a 200metre radius.

“The canisters were then found to be propane or butane and we monitored them with a thermal imaging camera.

“When they appeared to be cool we let people back into their homes. Throughout the operation our main concern was those of the residents.

“As it is we will now probably be maintaining a presence on the site for the best part of the evening.”

One group of evacuees found their way to a nearby pub at the edge of cordon and waited anxiously for the all clear.

Evacuee Julie Davies said: “It was really worrying. I saw the fire brigade come past so I stepped out side to take a look.

“I thought the house down the road was on fire so I got everyone outside. It turned out to be the garage and firemen asked us where the fire hydrant was.

“We were just about to sit down to a late Christmas dinner when we were told to get out.”

The A131 remained closed in all directions last night but the fire itself was extinguished shortly after 8pm.

A fire investigation has been launched, but there was nothing to indicate a suspicious cause of the blaze last night.

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