New roof saves Aylsham church in suspected arson attack

St John of the Cross Roman Catholic church un Aylsham at which four fire crews tackled a blaze in a

St John of the Cross Roman Catholic church un Aylsham at which four fire crews tackled a blaze in a shed on the church grounds in the early hours of Monday morning. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A new roof is believed to have saved a north Norfolk church from destruction in a suspected arson attack.

St John of the Cross Roman Catholic church un Aylsham at which four fire crews tackled a blaze in a

St John of the Cross Roman Catholic church un Aylsham at which four fire crews tackled a blaze in a shed on the church grounds in the early hours of Monday morning. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Chiefs at St John of the Cross Roman Catholic Church, Aylsham, are counting their blessings after this morning's fire which reduced a shed to ash and spread to the neighbouring church's roof.

Four fire crews tackled the early morning blaze on Gashouse Hill and managed to control the flames.

The 1960s building was left with a burnt hole in a section of its roof, a smashed window, plus smoke and water damage.

Church members Peter and Wendy Adamsom, who were among the first on the scene, said the church had just had a new £21,000 roof installed, made from the latest flame-resistant materials.

'The fire brigade said that if the old roof had still been on, there would probably be nothing left,' said Mr Adamson.

'It's also very fortunate that we have arranged to have the church decorated inside and out, but that won't be happening until May.'

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He and his wife were cleaning up in the church today while Crime Scene Investigation officers examined the shed, where the fire started.

Mrs Adamson said that, since the shed had been burgled in the summer of 2014, it had only contained a few books, and a barbecue. In the 2014 attack, thieves had stolen tools kept inside, and smashed a church window.

'We don't know if the two incidents are linked,' she added. 'It's sad. You just feel 'Why do they do it? What do they gain?''

The church, which has an average congregation of 70, will be open as usual for Friday morning mass.

•Anyone with information should contact PC Rob Devlin on 101.