Fire rips through former piggery at West Lexham Education Centre near Swaffham

A fire has ripped through a former piggery that was due to become a key part of a residential education centre near Swaffham.

Firefighters from Fakenham, Dereham and Kings Lynn spent more than three hours tackling the blaze at the West Lexham Education Centre after being called at 1.03pm today, Saturday July 21.

Warrington resident Walter Glover, who is staying at the centre while visiting his son who works there, first heard the fire from the nearby church.

He said: 'The fire was roaring. At first I thought they were shooting. By the time we got back it was going big style. There were flames going through the roof.'

His wife Flo added: 'It spread so quickly and there were tiles falling everywhere. It was frightening – pop, bang, all sorts.'

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Firefighters declared the initial incident over at 4.27pm, but crews from Swaffham, Fakenham and Dereham returned to put out a small fire that reignited just before 7pm, and continued to damp down.

Owner Edmund Colville secured planning permission two years ago to turn the large brick building into a student common room, dining room, kitchen and workshop. He said the rest of the site was still open for business, but added: 'Obviously there will be a change of plan.'

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He said the cause of the fire was not yet known.

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