Toy store blaze 'suspicious'

POLICE are treating a massive fire that destroyed the roof of a high street store as suspicious.Almost 90 firefighters from across Suffolk and Norfolk tackled the blaze that broke out in the three-storey building in Diss during the early hours of Saturday.

POLICE are treating a massive fire that destroyed the roof of a high street store as suspicious.

Almost 90 firefighters from across Suffolk and Norfolk tackled the blaze that broke out in the three-storey building in Diss during the early hours of Saturday.

Ten crews spent nearly four hours fighting flames as they ripped through the roof above Diss Toys and employment agency PPS, housed in the same Mere Street building.

Later scenes of crime officers and fire investigators launched an inquiry into the cause of the blaze, which broke out at 1am.


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Det-con John Watson, of Diss CID, said there was no obvious cause at this early stage and that officers had not ruled out arson.

"We believe the fire to be suspicious and may have originated from on the roof area. The fire damage is consistent with it having started in the roof of the building and spread down," he said.

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"We are keen to talk to anyone who may have seen anyone in the area from 6pm onwards, particularly anyone who saw anyone on the roof of the premises along Mere Street."

Fire crews first on the scene worked in tiny spaces to battle the blaze with hose reels, said Yarmouth station commander Peter Sergeant.

"The alarm was raised by a resident who could see the flames from across the roof tops of Diss.

"When the first crews got here there was fire coming out of the windows from the roof and it was clear that a serious fire had already developed.

"The first crews on the scene did an excellent job reducing the spread of the incident."

Mr Sergeant said the fire had got between two buildings and was starting to spread between buildings, leaving firefighters no option but to tackle it in a confined space.

Within an hour it was under control, but the roof was destroyed, there were structural damage to the second floor and severe water damage to the ground and first floors.

Neighbouring businesses praised firefighters' efforts saying without their quick actions fire would have swept down the terraced street.

Area manager for Hughes electrical store, Mike Farrell, next door to Diss Toys, said they had been unaffected apart from losing power until noon on Saturday.

"If the firemen had been half an hour late, the fire would have been down the lot. We're very lucky. If they had been any later, we would not have a shop.

"I had a phone call on Saturday morning telling me that the shop had burned down. I was very relieved."

During the fire electricity officials were called in to isolate power supplies and South Norfolk District Council's building inspector was called to assess the state of the building.

Crews from Diss, Thetford, Stradbroke, Eye, Harleston, Wymondham, Long Stratton, Attleborough and Hingham were at the scene until 3.30am.

It was a busy night for Diss fire fighters as minutes before the call to the Mere Street fire, crews were called to a fire at the feather factory in Park Road. It took them less than an hour to fight a fire in silos containing feathers and machinery.

n Witnesses are asked to call Diss CID on 01953 424242.

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