Man's body found in house fire drama

AN investigation was last night underway into the cause of a major blaze in Suffolk that saw one man die and forced about 100 people from their homes.A 200m-exclusion zone was put in place around a van outside the fire-gutted house in Diprose Road, off Bently Drive, at Oulton, after firefighters discovered it contained a highly explosive acetylene gas canister.

AN investigation was last night underway into the cause of a major blaze in Suffolk that saw one man die and forced about 100 people from their homes.

A 200m-exclusion zone was put in place around a van outside the fire-gutted house in Diprose Road, off Bently Drive, at Oulton, after firefighters discovered it contained a highly explosive acetylene gas canister.

The man, who has not yet been named, was found in the house's garage where it was thought the blaze started in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Along with those evacuated from their properties, residents of a further 40 homes were told to stay away from windows and close curtains as a 24-hour watch period was imposed by the fire service.


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Roads off Millennium Way, and those leading to Bently Drive, were closed off by police as a precautionary measure.

Acetylene can still explode even after it has cooled down, as once heated up a chemical reaction is started that can leave it unstable.

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The semi-burnt-out van which contained the canister was being doused by hose jets all morning in an effort to cool it down as fire crews waited for a representative of gas canister company BOC to arrive to determine if it was safe to move.

Flames ripped through the garage and the upstairs bedroom of the first house, damaged the next door building, and caused smoke damage to a third property, where Martin Halliday lives.

He described the scene before six fire engines, two ambulances and police officers arrived at the scene at about 6am.

“We were woken up in the early hours in the morning. There were a couple of explosions. I though it was thunder to be honest. There was smoke billowing out of the house,” he said.

“Myself and another neighbour got children out from the next door house. We were banging on the door of the house where the fire was. We tried to get in but the heat was too intense.”

Mr Halliday added: “When the firefighters arrived they told us to get back in out houses. Then two minutes later they told us all to quickly get out as they had found the gas canister.”

Paul Collins, Divisional Officer for the Suffolk fire and rescue service, said: “It was a very serious fire on the first floor and in the garage.

“When we gained access to the van parked outside we realised it had the canister and events sped up from then to the situation we have now.

“Acetylene is unlike normal gas containers. It starts to decompose when it gets hot and the reaction keeps going even when it's cooled down.”

He added that it was a tragedy that someone lost their life.

Evacuated residents were thought to have all found places to stay with friends and relatives. Most were able to return to their homes last night. No one else was hurt.

Fire crews attended the scene from Lowestoft, Beccles and Yarmouth.

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