Probe into mystery house blaze
By Ted JeoryAN investigation has been launched into the cause of a "spectacular" blaze that destroyed a two-storey house in the early hours.Police and fire forensic teams have been combing the gutted remains of a detached house in Mersea Road, Colchester, after flames ripped through the building yesterday morning.
By Ted Jeory
AN investigation has been launched into the cause of a "spectacular" blaze that destroyed a two-storey house in the early hours.
Police and fire forensic teams have been combing the gutted remains of a detached house in Mersea Road, Colchester, after flames ripped through the building yesterday morning.
An elderly man had to leave his next-door apartment as fears grew the roof of the four-bedroom house was about to cave in.
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Fourteen firefighters from Colchester, Wivenhoe and Chelmsford were called to the shortly after 3.30am yesterday, but the flames had already engulfed the building by the time they arrived.
Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were sent into the house to check no-one was inside, but were then ordered to withdraw because the roof was caving in.
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One Colchester firefighter, who asked not to be named, said: "It was spectacular - definitely one of the scariest ones we've had in a while.
"We think it started on the ground floor, but it was well alight when we got there - it was obvious it had been going for some time."
Crews and police blocked off Mersea Road, which remained closed to traffic throughout most of yesterday as forensic teams scoured the area as part of their investigation into the cause of the fire.
Pete Dillon, who lives near the derelict house, said he, his wife and four children had been asleep when the blaze started.
"We then heard the fire crews arrive and you could feel the heat really build up. They got my neighbour, Tommy Murray, out from next door and then the roof went 'crash'. The noise was huge and then you could hear the tiles smashing," he added.
"A house of mine in Mill Street burnt down a few years ago, so I've been through all this before. We just kept in close touch with the firefighters, although the kids just slept through it all."
Neighbours, Anita and Michael Page, said the sky had turned "pure orange" as the fire had took hold. "I don't think we were in any danger, but it was an unbelievable sight," said Mrs Page. "The firefighters were just brilliant."
It is understood the property has been unoccupied for about two years and an application had been submitted to Colchester Borough Council to build new flats on the site.
An Essex fire service spokeswoman said: "Crews were called to a fire in an unoccupied detached house in the early hours of the morning. The house was severely damaged with the roof collapsing into the first floor.
"Firefighting was extremely difficult as the building was not safe to enter due to the collapse of the roof, which left the sides of the house unsupported.
"Crews made a search of the building on arrival to ensure that there was no-one inside and were then withdrawn. An aeriel platform was used to tackle the fire from above."