Blaze rips through city home

The roof of a block of flats was destroyed when a blaze ripped through a city home - but relieved neighbours praised fire crews for tackling the fire before even more damage was caused.

The roof of a block of flats was destroyed when a blaze ripped through a city home - but relieved neighbours praised fire crews for tackling the fire before even more damage was caused.

When crews were first called to the burning second floor flat at 8.20pm yesterday initial reports stated somebody was trapped in the Barrack Street home.

Although it had turned out by 9.15pm that nobody was in the flat, there were fears the blaze was about to spread to other properties in the block, which led to eight flats being evacuated.

Cochise Leather, 31, who lives in the flat next to the one where the fire broke out, said: “It was about five minutes away from spreading to my flat. They knocked down my door at about 8.30pm and told me the flat next door was on fire and I had to get out. I had a friend and his kids round so we all went out.

“When I got downstairs I could see the flames from the flat next door and all of a sudden it took hold of the roof.

“I think I'll have some water damage, but it could have been worse.”

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James Betrie, 56, who has lived in the flats for 17 years, said: “I heard a fireman knocking on my door and when I went downstairs I was a bit taken aback when I saw the fire.

“Flames were shooting out from the roof and it was taking hold. All the roof has caved in, but it looks like they got there at the right time and nipped it in the bud.”

At its height, there were seven fire engines in attendance, including the aerial platform, which was being used to tackle the fire in the roof. About 20 police officers were also at the scene, along with a paramedic.

Barrack Street was closed between the Puppet Theatre on the Whitefriars roundabout and the mini-roundabout at the end of Silver Road.

Barry Key, station manager, praised the first firefighters who arrived at the blaze, under the guidance of watch manager Andy Bilton.

He said: “They made what we call a good stop in terms of stopping it from spreading to the other flats. When they arrived crews went in with breathing apparatus to establish if anybody was in there and fortunately there was not.

“Other crews then went to the other flats to make sure it had not spread and then we brought in the aerial platform because it was safer to tackle it from outside.”

Speaking last night he said at that point the cause of the fire was not known and he did not know if a smoke alarm had been fitted in the flat.

Norfolk police said they had liaised with Norwich City Council about finding the people who were evacuated somewhere to stay overnight.