Stowupland tearoom to be demolished after being gutted by huge blaze
- Credit: SUFFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE
Nearly 30 fire vehicles spent hours battling a blaze that damaged a Stowupland tearoom so badly the remaining structures look likely to be demolished.
Nearby residents experienced powercuts and were asked to keep their doors and windows shut after the major fire at Nutshells tearoom on Saturday, January 30.
Twenty-nine fire vehicles, including two aerial ladder platforms, were called from as far away as Essex to fight the fire at Walnut Tree Farm in Gipping Road.
A spokesman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said that when the first two crews arrived at around 10am they found the Nutshells tearoom in Gipping Road was "well alight".
Two more crews and UK Power Networks were called to the scene.
More crews were then called as the blaze has spread to nearby outbuildings.
A spokesman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said there was a "low level risk" of asbestos after it was thought to have been found in the roof of one of the buildings.
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By noon, there were 10 pumps on the scene and the fire was described as "not currently under control".
However an hour later crews on the scene said "good progress" was being made tackling the blaze.
At 2pm, fire area manager Henry Griffin said: "We've had extensive resources at the scene to deal with a significant fire and we now have it under control.
"Some buildings have sadly suffered significant damage and we will likely be on the scene for a number of hours to come and an investigation into the cause of the fire will start."
Mr Griffin said the investigation would also look at whether the blaze spread especially quickly to nearby outbuildings and was not likely to reach its conclusion until next week.
"No-one's been injured at all in this incident," he said.
"We had crews on the scene very quickly and we had some cross-border resources come from Essex to help deal with the fire.
"One of our priorities was to stop the fire's spread before it affected a residential property which we successfully did.
"I really want to praise the crews efforts here. It was a dynamic fire with a lot to do on arrival, they did a cracking job."
A 'stop' call was made on the incident at 3.22pm, but crews remained on the scene liaising with the owner of the buildings to make the structures safe.
According to the fire service, the cause of the blaze is thought to have "accidental".
Suffolk police officers were called to the scene to close surrounding roads.
A police spokesman said Rendall Lane and Gipping Road — the roads immediately around the scene of the fire — have been closed but are expected to reopen at around 6.15pm.
Residents of Saxham Street were asked to keep their doors and windows closed as the plume of smoke from the fire is travelling in their direction.
One eyewitness described seeing "lots of smoke" on Saxham Street — roughly 1km from Nutshells tearoom.
UK Power Networks said it had received 12 reports of power cuts in area.
A statement on its website said: "We had to turn off power in your area so our engineers could safely carry out emergency repairs to the network."
The electricity company said its engineers were trying to work out how long it would take to switch people's power back on.
A post on the Nutshells Tea Room Facebook on Saturday evening said: "The whole of the Nutshells building was sadly lost to the blaze.
"At the time of writing, it sadly looks like the remaining structure is not safe and will have to be demolished.
"Emergency services will continue to monitor the building overnight.
"Understandably, Nutshells will be closed for the foreseeable future, while we try to assess the damage and rebuild from this.
"Thank you all for your kind comments and thoughts and a special thank you to the emergency services who have spent all day tackling the blaze."
Twisted metal and charred wood were all that remained of the tearoom the day after the blaze.
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