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Crews battle as fire threatens to spread

PUBLISHED: 14:14 16 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:24 05 July 2010

FORTY firefighters were faced with a major battle this week as flames that engulfed a Lowestoft flat started to spread to neighbouring properties.

Crews from Suffolk and Norfolk were called to London Road South after smoke was seen coming from a top-floor flat in a row of three-storey Victorian houses just before 10.

FORTY firefighters were faced with a major battle this week as flames that engulfed a Lowestoft flat started to spread to neighbouring properties.

Crews from Suffolk and Norfolk were called to London Road South after smoke was seen coming from a top-floor flat in a row of three-storey Victorian houses just before 10.25am on Tuesday.

At first it was feared people were trapped inside but firefighters soon discovered everyone was safely out. They then faced a tricky operation as the flames started to spread.

The property where the fire started and a flat immediately below suffered extensive damage and were left uninhabitable. Long traffic queues developed after police closed off a large section of London Road South.

Assistant divisional fire officer John Tiffen said: “It was all going well and then we had a rapid fire spread. We had to put breathing apparatus wearers in and adopt aggressive tactics to stop the fire spreading. With this type of property fire can easily spread in floors and ceilings.”

Mr Tiffen said crews had to rip out the ceiling of the property below the flat after flames burnt through the floorboards. They then sent up a hydraulic platform to pull tiles from the roof to enable the remaining fire to be extinguished.

He added: “A large section of the floor had burnt through and it was unsafe for firefighters to go into.”

The fire was out by early afternoon and investigators said the blaze is thought to have started accidently because of an electrical fault.

At its height crews from Lowestoft, Beccles, Wrentham and Yarmouth were at the scene.

Neighbours, who watched the drama unfolding from the street, told how smoke started to seep into their homes before they escaped to safety.

Waveney District Council officer Paul Moss dashed home after receiving a call at work to say the neighbouring property was on fire and discovered smoke damage to the upper parts of his house.

He said: “Fortunately everyone got out and nobody was injured.”

Angie Mann, 30, who lives in a neighbouring flat, said: “I was having my breakfast, and then there was a commotion and lots of people out on the pavement. I then realised that the flat next to mine was on fire and thought I'd better get out. I'm still shaking now: there was smoke everywhere.”

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