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Pub fire pinned on ‘spontaneously combusting’ cleaning rag as drivers warned over parking

PUBLISHED: 18:18 29 June 2020

The Lord Nelson pub in Trafalgar Road West. Fire crews have said inconsiderate parking in the area delayed their response to a fire Picture: Liz Coates

The Lord Nelson pub in Trafalgar Road West. Fire crews have said inconsiderate parking in the area delayed their response to a fire Picture: Liz Coates

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An oily rag is being blamed for a pub fire in a tight terraced street, as drivers were ticked off for blocking emergency access.

An oily rag left on a bench at the Lord Nelson pub as the landlady made efforts to spruce it up ahead of reopening caused a fire drama after it spontaneously combusted Picture: Liz CoatesAn oily rag left on a bench at the Lord Nelson pub as the landlady made efforts to spruce it up ahead of reopening caused a fire drama after it spontaneously combusted Picture: Liz Coates

Numerous blue lights rushed to the scene in Trafalgar Road West in Gorleston at 3.20am on Monday (June 29) to reports of a fire at The Lord Nelson pub.

But badly parked vehicles, some on corners and on double yellow lines, meant vital minutes were wasted reaching the building - home to a family of five.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service’s eastern group manager Clive Wells said: “We could not get into Trafalgar Road West from either end.

“Bad parking adds to our response times and we would urge people to consider whether emergency vehicles could pass before leaving their car and not to park on double yellow lines.

Trafalgar Road West where fire crews were delayed by inconsiderate parking. Warning stickers were placed on offending vehicles Picture; Liz CoatesTrafalgar Road West where fire crews were delayed by inconsiderate parking. Warning stickers were placed on offending vehicles Picture; Liz Coates

“It is the difference between someone surviving, and crews not getting there in time.”

Meanwhile landlady Sandra Farman, who lives nearby, was shocked to see smoke billowing from the bar.

The three people inside at the time - her business partner Neil Armstrong, his partner and their young daughter - had all got out safely after the fire alarm sounded.

They were checked over by paramedics at the scene.

The Lord Nelson pub in Trafalgar Road West. Fire crews have said they struggled to reach the building because of poor parking on double yellow lines and on corners which put lives at risk Picture: Liz CoatesThe Lord Nelson pub in Trafalgar Road West. Fire crews have said they struggled to reach the building because of poor parking on double yellow lines and on corners which put lives at risk Picture: Liz Coates

She said fire officers concluded the fire was caused by an oily rag left on a seat that had “spontaneously combusted” and begun to smoulder.

“There were no flames,” she said. “Just a lot of smoke. The alarms went off and the fire retardant in the bench did its job.

”Everything worked how it should have worked.

“It was all part of my redecorating regime. I had been cleaning the floor with linseed oil and left the cloth on the bench.

“I feel very lucky.

“The daft thing is that if I had left my dust sheets there the fire could have got the carpet and that would have been it.”

She said she was keen to warn others of the fire hazard.

A neighbour said parking was a big problem in the tight terraced street with wing mirrors regularly clipped if they weren’t tucked in.

“It has always been a tight squeeze and a car on double yellows was hit by a dust cart.

“We just accept it. We park where we can.”

The pub still plans to open on July 4 with a strict 2m distancing policy.


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