Three people in hospital after 100 firefighters tackle huge Sudbury town centre blaze
- Credit: Archant
Firefighters remain at the scene of a huge blaze in Sudbury town centre this morning, after it damaged five buildings - including shops and a bank.
It started on Sunday evening in Friars Street and affected a number of neighbouring properties. Fire crews, at this stage, are still unsure if anyone was trapped inside the buildings.
Fifteen fire crews from across Suffolk were sent to the scene. There were reports of firefighters heroically rescuing one woman from a second floor window seconds before an explosion.
The town’s Oxfam store on Friars Street along with Celebrities Nails were totally engulfed in flames and fire teams worked to try stop it spreading to properties nearby, although the HSBC bank was affected. Many of the properties in this central part of town are medieval and densely packed in.
This morning, the facade of the nail bar and Oxfam buildings had collapsed.
Police launched a full-scale evacuation of the area last night, with around 20 people moved from their homes. The cause of the blaze is not yet known.
Meanwhile, more than £1,000 has already been raised in a fundraising appeal after the devastating fire.
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Three people – a man in his 50s, a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 70s - who had minor burns and smoke inhalation, were taken to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds for further treatment.
Another patient was treated at the scene.
A huge dark cloud of smoke could be seen for miles over the centre of Sudbury and many residents are standing around the streets watching events unfold.
One of them, Anne Deacon, said: “It’s terrible - the Oxfam shop building which has been there for decades has completely gone - it’s really sad. You could see the fire had spread to the roof of Javelin - the flames were coming out from between the tiles. The police just shouted at everyone to get back because they think the roof might collapse at any minute.”
Town councillor, Simon Barrett, whose secretary was walking past the nail bar, saw the smoke and called the fire service, described the fire as “disastrous for Sudbury”. He said: “This is a huge fire and really serious - the firefighters seem to be struggling to get it under control at the moment.
“These are really old timber buildings with historical significance. The fact that it is also affecting so many businesses is a complete disaster.”
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Police were alerted by the fire service around 6.25pm to reports of a fire and people trapped in a flat at Market Hill. The fire service began rescuing people from the building as police and ambulance personnel attended to assist.
“Shortly after 7pm police began a full-scale evacuation of the immediate area as the fire spread. As of 7.30pm up to 20 people had been moved from their homes. Police have also begun contacting business keyholders where possible.
“The fire service are believed to have 15 appliances at the scene in a bid to get the blaze under control.
“The cause of the fire is currently unknown, with the priority being public safety, and arrangements being made to house those who have been evacuated.”
The fire service was unable to confirm last night that all occupants were accounted.
Speaking at about 8.30pm, Dan Fearn, assistant chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said not everyone was accounted for.
“We weren’t able to get into all of the flats before the building started to collapse. Once we have got a hold of the incident we will be able to make a search of the premises.”
Police are advising residents and motorists that Friars Street will remain closed between Station Road and the market place on Monday.
There will also be a facility at the Town Hall in Sudbury from 8am tomorrow morning, Monday 7 September where any member of the public or business representatives can get more information and advice.
Police and fire will start an investigation into the cause of the blaze and anyone who may have information that may assist is asked to contact Suffolk Police on 101, quoting CAD 336 of today, Sunday 6 September.