Mother and four children escape blaze

FAMILY escapes as fire guts home

A mother and her four young sons managed to escape a devastating fire, which spread rapidly and gutted their Lowestoft home.

The family had safely evacuated the burning three-storey terraced house, in Kirkley Run, by the time 20 firefighters arrived at the scene at about 5pm yesterday.

About 20 firefighters had to act quickly to control the blaze and stop it spreading to neighbouring homes as scores of onlookers watched the drama unfold near Kirkley High School.

The house where the fire started was completely gutted and a neighbouring home was smoke-damaged, but assistant divisional officer Steve Mableson, of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the devastation could have been far more widespread.

He said: “It was a severe fire, which spread rapidly. By the time fire crews arrived, flames were issuing from the ground, first and second floors, and were threatening to spread to adjoining properties.

“Crews had to work quickly using breathing apparatus and several hose reel jets to enter the building and extinguish the fire. They carried out a search of the premises and struggled to prevent it from spreading to the adjoining properties.”

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Young families are believed to live in the neighbouring properties and Mr Mableson confirmed there were no casualties from any of the affected homes.

Initial investigations into the cause of the fire, which started in the ground floor and was brought under control by 6pm, are now under way.

Mr Mableson added: “With a fire of this intensity, it can often spread externally and will come out of the windows.”

Christine Connor, 59, who lives opposite the scene of the fire, said: “I just could not believe how quickly the house went up. The guttering was just melting before your eyes and the flames from the top bedroom were about 20ft. The smoke was so black.

“There was a mum and four young children and thank God they got out.”

Neighbour Maria Smith, who initially looked after the mother and her four children, said: “It was a full blaze and went very quickly.”

Neighbours said the mother's name was Melissa Wright and it is believed she and her children, including two babies, were being looked after by a relative last night.

The fire caused serious traffic disruption as police had to set up cordons and direct motorists along side roads.