The fire investigation into the blaze at Thorpe St Andrew’s Pinebanks site could continue into early next week, a Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service spokesman has said.

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The fire in the early hours of Thursday destroyed most of the original part of the Victorian villa and at its height 66 firefighters battled to keep it from spreading to other parts of the derelict building which was formerly a Norwich Union sports centre. There has been extensive damage to the old part of the building but about 70pc of whole venue was saved.

A Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said preliminary investigation work had been started at the site and that the investigation would continue into next week. A Norfolk police spokesman also said the investigation into the cause remained ongoing.

The site is earmarked for housing and is being developed by Ocubis Ltd. A spokesman for Ocubis Ltd, development managers for site owner Berliet Ltd, said some “controlled demolition” may need to take place.

The spokesman said: “Having been alerted to this devastating fire by our security contractors, who attended site only last week to provide additional boarding-up to windows and doors that had recently been used for the unlawful entry to our buildings, we instructed them to be on-site assisting the fire and rescue services. As soon as the fire and rescue services have assessed the remainder of the buildings we will take all necessary steps to make them safe. In order to do so, it is likely that we will have to undertake some controlled demolition on the advice of the local authority building control and fire brigade.”

The contractor, Attleborough-based Anglian Demolition and Asbestos, finished boarding up the site last Friday.

Lee Storer, managing director of Anglian Demolition, said: “Glass had been put in all round on the ground floor so we took security measures such as boarding up, making sure gates had new locks on them and making a visual inspection of the site.

“It isn’t safe at all now and we would recommend the chimneys and old tower need to come down very soon.”

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