Ipswich: Blaze drama in Carr Street shop

Owners of a charity shop were today counting the cost of the damage caused by a large blaze which broke out in the basement.

More than 35 firefighters faced a challenging night when they were called to the British Heart Foundation shop in Carr Street last night following reports of smoke billowing into the sky at around 9pm.

Part of Carr Street between Northgate Street and Major’s Corner was cordoned off by police as fire crews attempted to ensure the three-storey building was safe.

Last night, police, together with the crews, began an investigation into the cause of the fire.

Karl Rolfe, area manager for Suffolk Fire and Rescue, said the blaze had taken hold of the basement of the shop. Although there is little structural damage, he added that the shop has suffered from heavy smoke damage and the contents in the basement – mostly charity donations – have been destroyed.


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The fire was extinguished by 11.50pm but crews remained at the scene until the early hours of this morning to ensure the fire was fully out and the area was safe.

Mr Rolfe explained that due to the nature of the incident thermal imaging cameras were used to help firefighters tackle the fire in the difficult conditions.

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Speaking from the scene last night, Mr Rolfe added: “It is a fairly well established fire so we have got a number of crews here.

“Because the fire is in the basement it makes it more difficult for us to fight. There is nowhere for the heat or smoke to escape other than past the firefighters. The fire is more punishing on our crews.

“It means it is hotter down there and harder for the crews and so we need more resources than we would in a normal, more ventilated property.

“There is a fair amount of smoke issuing from three separate vented areas of the building – the front, side and rear of the property.”

Last week Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service introduced new uniforms for their crews, to give them better protection.

Mr Rolfe said this fire was “exactly what they are designed for”.

He said: “They are designed to give us better protection, they are very high spec and very well suited to structural fires, this will be a good test for them.”

The building was unoccupied at the time and the fire did not spread to any neighbouring buildings.

Two fire crews from Princes Street and Colchester Road were originally sent to the scene.

However, just before 9.20pm four vehicles were required, including a command support vehicle and a support unit from Woodbridge.

Shortly afterwards the response was increased to six crews as smoke continued to come from the ground floor of the shop, which is also connected to flats.

One witness said smoke could still be seen coming from the premises shortly after 10pm.

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