Fire that destroyed caravan at travellers’ site ‘set off a series of explosions’

The clearing up operation that followed a fire at a carvan at a travellers' site in Mattishall The clearing up operation that followed a fire at a carvan at a travellers' site in Mattishall

Friday, October 26, 2012
11:10 AM

A fire that destroyed a residential caravan at a travellers’ site in a mid-Norfolk village last night set off a series of explosions, villagers said.

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Fire at a carvan at a travellers' site in MattishallFire at a carvan at a travellers' site in Mattishall

Mattishall residents had gathered near the location off Mill Road after the blaze started at about 7.40pm.

The caravan, which villagers said housed a family with children, was completely destroyed and a nearby fence badly damaged, but police said no-one was injured.

One villager said: “We came home fairly late and all of a sudden when we came down the road there was a fire and we thought it was a bonfire or they had started their fireworks early.

“The caravan was all alight but then there were explosions with the gas canisters.”

Another witness described “bangs” and “a very loud hissing sound and a few bangs, but not large bangs”.

One villager who said he saw flames higher than the hedge that surrounds much of the site said: “There was a lot of black smoke. I don’t know if it was tyres. It was a really hot fire – it roared enough. It was a big fire.”

The remnants of the structure were being removed from the site this morning, and men from the travellers’ site were shovelling charred remains.

A man who was helping with the clear up operation said residents did not want to talk about the incident.

A fire service spokesman said a propane gas cylinder was involved, and two crews from Dereham and one from Hingham took just over an hour to extinguish the blaze, and declared the incident over at 8.45pm.

A police spokesman said they are not investigating the cause of the fire, which they did not believe was suspicious.

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