'Devastation' as huge fire rips through Norfolk as major incident declared

20 July 2022, 10:14 | Updated: 20 July 2022, 11:32

Firefighters battled a blaze in Brancaster Staithe as Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident
Firefighters battled a blaze in Brancaster Staithe as Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident. Picture: LBC

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A number of homes were destroyed after fire swept across Norfolk on the hottest day of the year.

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Firefighters raced to the blaze in Brancaster Staithe at about 5pm as Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident as fires surged.

People were also evacuated from properties in Poringland and Ashill.

The fire is said to have started in a field before spreading to people's gardens, forcing them to be evacuated. At least five fire engines were sent to the scene.

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Phil Hartshorne, who works in the village, told Eastern Daily Press: "It started small but then it got closer and closer to the homes.

"We had a fire a few years back and we've had trouble with floods, but we've never seen anything like this."

Wildlife were also lost in the flames at the Wild Ken Hill nature project.

Dominic Buscall, the manager at Wild Ken Hill, said there had been a "bad fire" on the coastal park.

"Too early to say how bad the damage is, but certainly much wildlife lost," he said in a tweet.

"Climate change is here and we need a massive acceleration in our efforts against it."

Firefighters battled the blaze in Brancaster Staithe on Tuesday evening
Firefighters battled the blaze in Brancaster Staithe on Tuesday evening. Picture: LBC

Crews battled multiple blazes in the county as UK temperatures rose above 40C in some places and conditions were tinder-dry.

The fire service said on Tuesday evening that "all appliances are either committed to ongoing incidents or have been alerted to a state of stand-by for incoming calls".

Firefighters in the county were called to more than 80 incidents yesterday, including another that started in a field in the village of Ashmanhaugh and spread to two homes.

In a further incident, a fire started in a field and spread to homes in the village of Ashill.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue declared a major incident
Norfolk Fire and Rescue declared a major incident. Picture: LBC

The service said it had "declared a major incident due to the demands caused by ongoing incidents related to the current heatwave".

It added: "Additional command, control and mobilising arrangements have been implemented to manage the increased volume of calls and incidents, and to ensure the best balance of available appliances across the county.

"While the incident is ongoing, we must prioritise resources and ask the public that they only contact Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service with emergency calls."

Interim Chief Fire Officer Tim Edwards praised the "professionalism, commitment and sheer dedication" of firefighters.

He wrote on Twitter that the "devastation and loss experienced by so many" was "not forgotten".

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