Fire at Norwich restaurant

One of the most historic parts of Norwich was engulfed in smoke today after the roof of a city restaurant went up in flames.

One of the most historic parts of Norwich was engulfed in smoke today after the roof of a city restaurant went up in flames.

About 50 firefighters were called to the blaze at Zizzi, in Tombland close to Norwich Cathedral, which started at about midday.

Crowds of people stood by and watched in shock as huge plumes of smoke rose from the building and could be both seen and smelt across a large part of the city.

Richard Herrell, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's group manager for the central area, said the first fire crew reached Zizzi within three minutes of being alerted to the incident, and four were there within the first 10 minutes.

Ten fire crews and supporting units from Norwich, Sprowston, Earlham, Wroxham, Hethersett, Long Stratton, Fakenham and Wymondham attended the scene in total, and Tombland was shut off to all other traffic until 3pm.

Zizzi and all of the surrounding buildings were evacuated and nobody was believed to be injured.

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The blaze was believed to have started in the kitchen area on the first floor of the restaurant building which also contains an empty flat. It was contained in the top of the listed building and put out by just after 1pm.

Firefighters spent much of the afternoon damping down hotspots and preventing further damage to the building.

Mr Herrell said: 'We do not know what caused the fire at this stage.

'There was a significant risk of the fire spreading. If it was not for the swift actions of the firefighters it could have been much worse.

'They did a cracking job and that is down to their ongoing professionalism, their knowledge of the local area, and being very good at their job. I would like to commend all the firefighters.'

The formal fire investigation has been delayed because the building has been declared unsafe. The investigation is due to begin tomorrow,

A Norfolk Police spokesman said police were not currently treating the fire as suspicious.