'It's terrible, very sad' - church severely damaged in blaze battled by dozens of firefighters
PUBLISHED: 14:50 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:03 05 September 2019
A church has been severely damaged in a blaze which was battled by dozens of firefighters.
Firefighters were called to St Mary's Church in Wimbotsham, near Downham Market, just after 6am today (Wednesday, September 4).
The roof of the church, in Church Road, has collapsed and the building has been gutted by the fire.
The fire service sent seven fire crews, including the aerial ladder platform, water carrier and control unit to the incident.
The service tweeted: "We are currently attending a building fire on Church Road, Wimbotsham. We have a large response and ask that people avoid the area to allow our crews to work."
A spokesman said there were no reports of any injuries.
Terry Pinto, station manager at King's Lynn, said: "We received reports of a fire just after 6am.
"It was a well developed fire. Unfortunately the majority of the church has 100pc been damaged by the fire.
"We've been able to save some of the historical items from the church.
"We are carrying out a detailed fire investigation with police and will be on scene for the rest of the day.
"It's been a difficult fire in terms of the building structure. Because it's in a rural area it's a struggle for water supply.
All the furniture in the church is unfortunately lost, we're trying to salvage what we can.
"It's a really important part of the community and it's a difficult job for the crews."
Fire crews from King's Lynn, Downham market, Methwold, Sandringham, Fakenham, Terrington and Outwell attended the fire.
People living in Wimbotsham spoke of their sadness at what had happened to the church, which dates back to the 12th Century.
Lynne Kidd, a senior healthcare assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who lives in Wimbotsham, said: "I think it's terrible, very sad. I walk my dogs up there when I have my days off.
"I just saw this black smoke billowing up in the sky, it was just awful and at first I thought it was someone's house.
"The church is never locked up, they always leave it open so people can go up. It's just dreadful."
Liz Royall, who lives nearby said: "It's such a shame, it's a beautiful church. I saw them (firefighters) up on the extended ladder. I could see thick smoke at around 6.30am this morning from the back of my garden."
Neighbour Anna Chase said: "It's awful, so sad. We woke up this morning to a passerby knocking on our door who told us the church was on fire, we looked out and saw the roof was on fire.
"We have homeless people living in the church sometimes. I've lived here about a year and have really enjoyed the views of the church as I can see it through my window."
Church warden, Liz Wing, said: "We're a cluster of four churches and around 25 to 30 people meet for a Sunday service once a month, although we have other activities throughout the week."
Philip Wing, another church warden, said: "Our biggest loss is a holy table which we had sacrament on every Sunday, if there was something we would have liked to save it would have been that."