Suspicious blaze in derelict shops

A TOWN'S High Street was closed as more than 20 firefighters battled a suspicious blaze in a row of mostly derelict shops.Two crews from Dovercourt were sent to the fire in Harwich at around 9pm on Wednesday.

A TOWN'S High Street was closed as more than 20 firefighters battled a suspicious blaze in a row of mostly derelict shops.

Two crews from Dovercourt were sent to the fire in Harwich at around 9pm on Wednesday.

Les Nicoll, a sub-officer at the station, said it was initially thought the fire was small and situated just inside the doorway of one of the shops.

But when firefighters entered they found that as well as that blaze, there were several others in the building and a major fire upstairs.


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As two firefighters put on breathing apparatus to help cope with the smoke, the roof above the shop collapsed and extra support was called in.

“There were flats round the back with lights on, and because we couldn't get any answer we had to break into those and make sure there was nobody there,” Mr Nicoll said.

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“We got further support from Manningtree and the aerial ladder platform from Colchester came down.

“That really made a difference, because we could attack the fire from above.”

Mr Nicoll added that particular effort was made to ensure an adjacent barber's shop was not damaged in the blaze.

“Fortunately, apart from some minor smoke damage I think it will be ok.”

He added that the blaze was being treated as a possible arson.

“It is most certainly suspicious. If you are going to see three or more seats of fire in a building it is pretty obvious.”

n A spokeswoman for Harwich Police said a juvenile had been arrested in connection with the fire but was subsequently released without charge.

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