'It's terrible, very sad' - church severely damaged in blaze battled by dozens of firefighters

PUBLISHED: 14:50 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:03 05 September 2019

Firefighters are battling a blaze at the church in Wimbotsham. Picture Anne Bloy.

Firefighters are battling a blaze at the church in Wimbotsham. Picture Anne Bloy.

Archant

A church has been severely damaged in a blaze which was battled by dozens of firefighters.

Firefighters were called to St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham, near Downham Market, just after 6am today (Wednesday, September 4).

The roof of the church, in Church Road, has collapsed and the building has been gutted by the fire.

Firefighters are battling a blaze at the church in Wimbotsham. Picture Anne Bloy.Firefighters are battling a blaze at the church in Wimbotsham. Picture Anne Bloy.

The fire service sent seven fire crews, including the aerial ladder platform, water carrier and control unit to the incident.

The service tweeted: "We are currently attending a building fire on Church Road, Wimbotsham. We have a large response and ask that people avoid the area to allow our crews to work."

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

A spokesman said there were no reports of any injuries.

Terry Pinto, station manager at King's Lynn, said: "We received reports of a fire just after 6am.

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

"It was a well developed fire. Unfortunately the majority of the church has 100pc been damaged by the fire.

"We've been able to save some of the historical items from the church.

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

"We are carrying out a detailed fire investigation with police and will be on scene for the rest of the day.

"It's been a difficult fire in terms of the building structure. Because it's in a rural area it's a struggle for water supply.

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

All the furniture in the church is unfortunately lost, we're trying to salvage what we can.

"It's a really important part of the community and it's a difficult job for the crews."

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Fire crews from King's Lynn, Downham market, Methwold, Sandringham, Fakenham, Terrington and Outwell attended the fire.

People living in Wimbotsham spoke of their sadness at what had happened to the church, which dates back to the 12th Century.

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Lynne Kidd, a senior healthcare assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who lives in Wimbotsham, said: "I think it's terrible, very sad. I walk my dogs up there when I have my days off.

"I just saw this black smoke billowing up in the sky, it was just awful and at first I thought it was someone's house.

Firefighters can be seen through the doorway after the wooden door was destroyed in the fire  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters can be seen through the doorway after the wooden door was destroyed in the fire Picture: Chris Bishop

"The church is never locked up, they always leave it open so people can go up. It's just dreadful."

Liz Royall, who lives nearby said: "It's such a shame, it's a beautiful church. I saw them (firefighters) up on the extended ladder. I could see thick smoke at around 6.30am this morning from the back of my garden."

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Neighbour Anna Chase said: "It's awful, so sad. We woke up this morning to a passerby knocking on our door who told us the church was on fire, we looked out and saw the roof was on fire.

"We have homeless people living in the church sometimes. I've lived here about a year and have really enjoyed the views of the church as I can see it through my window."

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Church warden, Liz Wing, said: "We're a cluster of four churches and around 25 to 30 people meet for a Sunday service once a month, although we have other activities throughout the week."

Philip Wing, another church warden, said: "Our biggest loss is a holy table which we had sacrament on every Sunday, if there was something we would have liked to save it would have been that."

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFirefighters at the scene of the blaze which has gutted the historic church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

Fire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market  Picture: Chris BishopFire has gutted the church at Wimbotsham, near Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

The roof of St Mary's in Wimbotsham was destroyed in the blaze. Pic: Anna Chase.The roof of St Mary's in Wimbotsham was destroyed in the blaze. Pic: Anna Chase.

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham.    Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Fire destroys most of St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

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