Residents left effectively homeless on New Year’s Eve after flat fire in Kirkley area of Lowestoft

Fire at a flat on the Waterloo Road/Victoria Terrace area of Kirkley.
Picture: James Bass

Fire at a flat on the Waterloo Road/Victoria Terrace area of Kirkley. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Shocked residents have been left effectively homeless for the New Year after a large fire broke out in a flat, causing extensive smoke and water damage to neighbouring properties.

Hanif Jaffer, the landlord of the 30 rented flats in Victoria Terrace, Kirkley, Lowestoft was just about to go into town shopping when he noticed thick black smoke coming out of the windows of one of the properties at 1.38pm today (Wednesday, December 31).

After dialling 999, he rushed inside the burning building and knocked on the doors of the flats to check no-one was inside before four fire crews from Lowestoft north and south fire stations began to tackle the blaze.

A person inside the flat where the fire started had already been led to safety by neighbours, Mr Jaffer said.

Station commander Paul Field said: “Crews were faced with a fully-developed fire on the upper floor. There was a lot of thick smoke.”

Firefighters went inside the building with breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze and were said to be “fighting back” the flames.

They got the blaze under control within an hour, with an aerial support unit from Great Yarmouth being used to check that the fire had not spread further to the loft areas of the property.

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Mr Jaffer - who works for Blackmore Management Ltd, which is responsible for the properties - said about four tenants would have to be re-housed as a result of the incident, because water used by the firefighters had gone through the floorboards and damaged the electrics.

Some neighbouring residents also reported that their belongings had been wrecked by both smoke and water.

A spokesman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was under control by 3pm, but crews remained at the scene “dampening down hotspots” as investigations into the cause of the blaze began.

At the height of the blaze, eight fire crews from Suffolk and Norfolk were called to tackle the flames at the building in the Victoria Terrace area of south Lowestoft.

Initial reports said the fire was believed to have been in a home for the elderly. However, it later emerged the fire was in multi-occupancy housing.

A brigade spokesman said: “We were called at 1.40pm to the Waterloo Road, Victoria Terrace area of Lowestoft. All persons are out of the building and accounted for.”

The blaze, which is understood to have been confined to the third storey, top floor of the flats in Kirkley, was tackled by five fire crews from Suffolk, and three crews from Norfolk including appliances from Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.

A police spokesman said officers were called by the fire service at about 1.50pm, to reports of a “block of flats on fire.”

With police officers “controlling the traffic” at the scene, Victoria Terrace had to be closed off to traffic.

A police spokesman said: “The building has been evacuated, with the top floor affected by the fire.”

The brigade spokesman added: “The stop was called at 2.58pm. We’re currently still on site dampening down hotspots, but the main bulk of the fire-fighting is under control. An investigation will now take place into the cause.”