Dozens of firefighters tackle blaze in former Belfast store in the centre of Wisbech

PUBLISHED: 10:44 29 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 June 2010

Fire at the belfast store in Wisbech

Fire at the belfast store in Wisbech

DOZENS of fire-fighters worked for 12 hours at the weekend tackling a blaze which tore through a disused property on Nene Quay in the centre of Wisbech.

Eight fire appliances, including some specialist vehicles including the turn-table ladder from the Kin

Fire at the belfast store in Wisbech

DOZENS of fire-fighters worked for 12 hours at the weekend tackling a blaze which tore through a disused property on Nene Quay in the centre of Wisbech.

Eight fire appliances, including some specialist vehicles including the turn-table ladder from the King's Lynn station, were at the scene of the blaze, which started at just after 6am on Saturday.

The fire-fighting operation continued for 12 hours because crews had to later assist demolition contractors in taking down chimneys at risk of collapse and some "hot-spots" continued to flare up.

Crews from all over the Fenland area, including Wisbech, March and King's Lynn, dealt with the blaze in the three-storey empty property overlooking the Nene quay. The old building, which backs on to a cluster of town centre shops, was formerly The Belfast linen store and at one time was earmarked for conversion into a pub by the Wetherspoons chain. It was being converted into flats.

The roof and upper floor of the three-storey building were lost in the blaze which was described by a fire chief as one of the biggest fenland fire-fighters have tackled in recent years.

On Saturday fire investigation officers worked with police scene of crimes officers to look at the cause of the blaze and their probing of the ruined property will continue today.

Around 40 fire-fighters were involved in tackling the blaze which had to be fought from the top because an internal stairwell had collapsed and it was not considered safe for fire crews to go inside.

Station manager Michael Jackman said that the crews worked successfully to prevent the fire spreading to adjacent shop properties.

"We used the aerial platform from King's Lynn like a water tower because the flames were coming out of the roof area and we needed to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent properties. It was like a rabbit warren there which we had to work around," he said.

Mr Jackman, who is commander of Cambridge city fire station, said it was one of the biggest fires in Wisbech for some years and one with the highest profile, owing to its location in the town centre.


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