Harleston community set to rally round those affected by devastating house fire
- Credit: Twitter/NorfolkEastDLOs
'They can rely on Harleston to help them' – that is the message from community leaders after a devastating fire which gutted a historic house in a town centre and severely damaged two others.
Neighbours described their shock at the seeing the blaze which took hold of the Victorian building in London Road, Harleston at 7.30am on Thursday, February 9.
The fire completely gutted one house, while roof damage was caused to another and a third was left with water damage.
An elderly man, believed to be aged in his 60s, was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with smoke inhalation after five fire crews and 22 firefighters spent several hours tackling the blaze.
London Road had to be closed while firefighters used a turntable ladder to help fight the blaze, as well as hosereel jets.
The scene around the house remains cordoned off.
Elaine Taylor, 59, who lives in nearby London Road, said: 'It was quite shocking to see that happen to such a lovely old building. It's one of the oldest buildings in Harleston.
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'Everyone is very sad. Three people have more or less lost their homes, either temporarily or permanently.'
However she added: 'Harleston has got a good community spirit and if someone is in trouble, the town does seem to pull together.'
One family, who did not want to be named, said they would even be prepared to offer those affected a temporary home should they need it.
The Rev Nigel Tuffnell, rector at St John the Baptist Church in Harleston, said churches in the area are monitoring the situation and are prepared to provide support if necessary.
He said: 'Harleston is an amazing place. It's a very strong community and these are the sort of times when that comes to the fore.'
Jeremy Savage, district councillor for Harleston, said: 'Almost certainly people will try to help as much as they can – Harleston is that sort of community.
'It's a pretty terrible thing to happen. People are very shocked and concerned.
'There a huge community spirit in Harleston and they can rely on Harleston to help them.'
Residents react to fire drama
Michael Taylor, 71, a London Road resident, said: 'I was lying in bed and looked out of the window. At first I thought it was really thick fog.
'Then my wife got out of bed and looked out of the windows and saw flames coming out of the bathroom window.
'The flames were coming out of the roof as well. The flames were licking up the wall. They must have been 6ft to 8ft high.
'It was fierce. It was a bit shocking to see such a big fire – you don't expect to wake up to something like that.'
Another resident who did not want to be named said: 'It was like a film set. Flames were flying out of the roof, really high. I've never seen anything like it.'
She also praised the work of the fire service, saying: 'They were amazing. They must've got here so quickly.'