Residents 'shocked' at home evacuation after military grenades and chemicals found in property
PUBLISHED: 11:39 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:57 29 July 2019
Dozens of homes have been evacuated after military grenades and unidentified chemicals were discovered in a Suffolk town.
Residents were evacuated from at least 60 properties in an area of Lowestoft after police discovered the chemicals and two military grenades at an address on Normanhurst Close this afternoon, (Sunday, July 28).
A man in his 50s was arrested at the scene on suspicion of possession of a firearm.
A Suffolk Police spokesperson said: "Police have conducted an evacuation of some properties in part of Lowestoft following the discovery of chemicals in a property this afternoon.
"Officers had reason to conduct a pre-planned warrant on a property on Normanhurst Close in the town just before 1pm today.
"On arrival at the premises police conducted a search of the property and recovered a quantity of unidentified chemicals and two military grenades inside the premises.
"Consequently, an evacuation of at least 60 properties, with a 100 metre cordon imposed, has taken place to ensure the public's safety, pending an examination of the items by Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal officers.
"They are being assisted at the scene by Suffolk Fire and Rescue teams."
The road currently remains closed to drivers and pedestrians and officers thanked local residents for their patience and understanding.
A spokesperson for North Lowestoft fire station said: "Although our fire station is in the cordoned off area due to the ongoing police operation, we will still be responding to incidents."
Enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Landlord Shaun Waters at The Norman Warrior pub on Fir Lane, said: "At about 4-4.30pm police closed the road off and there was lots of activity with them going up and down the road.
"At the moment the evacuation is at 60 homes halfway up Fir Lane - we're at the very end."
Mr Waters added: "People have been evacuated to the sports centre. We've got several people in the pub at the moment looking for somewhere to stay for the night.
"We've just heard it was a person with grenades and chemicals in their house.
"All we've really been told is that people won't be allowed back in to their properties tonight."
A spokesperson for Suffolk Police said the evacuation centre for the incident is the Waterlane Leisure Centre. Anyone in need of accommodation is asked to report to the site on Water Lane.
Tony Lewis, a resident of Fir Lane, said: "I was asked by the police to evacuate the area and then the police asked us to phone up friends and family to see if we could stay there for the night.
"All we were told was that it was an overnight, and we were told to keep an eye on social media."
"They also told us to keep an eye on their website for more information."
The 18-year-old, who is currently staying with a family member, added: "I was scared at first but over time once I knew the professionals were on the case I was less stressed."
He described the situation as "very surprising" and added: "The locals are very kind and friendly.
"It is a very quiet area also.
"There were a lot of elderly people and young people around who were shocked about what happened."
And Chloe Cullen, who was also evacuated, added: "I got a call from my mum saying they were evacuating the area. She was a bit worried.
"I opened my blinds and looked down and I could see police had cordoned off the road. "I saw people walking towards my flat asking everyone to evacuate."
The 23-year-old, who is staying with her mum after having to leave her flat with rescue dog, Amber, praised the police's response, and added: "I didn't really worry too much as obviously they were dealing with it and it was all in hand.
"They gave me time to pack my bag and said once you'd left you wouldn't be able to come back."
Andy Pearce, town councillor for the Harbour and Normanston Ward, said: "It's obviously quite scary and I don't want to jump to any conclusions.
"I can't offer any more advice than what police have said, in terms of don't panic, listen to the professionals on the scene, and wait for more information.
"If they're on the scene and are advising people where to go, just listen to them."