Newmarket: Firefighters praised after tackling major flats blaze

FIREFIGHTERS have been praised for preventing a serious blaze from spreading through flats and shops.

Fire services from two counties worked to extinguish the fire in Valley Way, Newmarket, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Six fire engines, one turn table ladder and a support vehicle with 38 firefighters in total were sent to the blaze which began in one of the four flats at about 3.37am. They were on top of the fire by about 5/5.30am.

Fire officer Jon Illingworth said while the second floor of that flat was damaged by fire, it had not spread to neighbouring flats or the shops below.

Neighbouring flats suffered smoke damage and some water damage, with a few of the businesses also suffering water damage.

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The eight or nine people and a dog managed to get out of the flats, Mr Illingworth said, adding how the two occupants of the property where the fire began were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. They are a mother and son.

Mr Illingworth said: “It was a very serious fire. It could have been a lot worse. We were lucky the people in there were able to get out. It is only a couple of lungs of smoke that will kill you. That’s the importance of getting the message about smoke alarms in.”

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Mathew O’Brien, who lives with his mother in a neighbouring flat to where the fire began, said: “That’s the main thing - everybody is okay. It’s just a bit of a shock, that’s all.”

The 25-year-old told how he was asleep when his mother woke him up, and as they came outside the nearside was already ablaze.

“They [firefighters] contained it well,” he said.

Beverley Foster, manager of the Betfred betting shop in the building, said they had been “very lucky”.

The shop was shut yesterday morning as the electricity was off, but she hoped it would open as soon as possible.

A spokeswoman for Flagship housing association said alternative properties had been found for two of the three flats affected, including a family with three children.

Longer-term accommodation would be considered for the mother and son in the badly damaged flat when something suitable came up in liaison with Forest Heath District Council which has the leasehold, she said. They are staying with family temporarily.

“Our customers are our main priority and will help them and continue to help them,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr Illingworth said the structure was stable. A Suffolk Police spokeswoman said the blaze was not being treated as suspicious.

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