Police are now treating Gorleston house fire as ‘suspicious’

A firefighter dampens the flames at a house fire in Daphne Way, Gorleston.

A firefighter dampens the flames at a house fire in Daphne Way, Gorleston. - Credit: Supplied

A fire which engulfed a Gorleston home in 'ferocious' flames is now being treated as 'suspicious', police have confirmed.

Fire and emergency services at the house fire in Daphne Way, Gorleston. Photo : Steve Adams

Fire and emergency services at the house fire in Daphne Way, Gorleston. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Neighbours were evacuated as the fire burned in a house in Daphne Way, on the Shrublands Estate in Gorleston on Wednesday night.

The fire was still burning two hours after firefighters had arrived on scene, crews concentrating on controlling it as they waited for the gas supply to be turned off.

Firefighters were called at 6.15pm.

Jonathan Wilby, incident commander at the scene, said: 'We had two crews from Gorleston, two from Yarmouth and one from Martham. When they got into the property they were met with a ferocious fire, and the colour of the flames soon indicated that there may have been a gas leak.'

Fire and emergency services at the house fire in Daphne Way, Gorleston. Photo : Steve Adams

Fire and emergency services at the house fire in Daphne Way, Gorleston. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

It transpired that the main gas line going in had been compromised, and the isolation valve usually used to shut off the supply had been burned away.

'At that point, we had to wait for the gas board to come out, because if we were to extinguish the fire, there still would have been gas in the property and that could have caused an explosion.'

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In the meantime, neighbours huddled next to the nearby Pub on the Shrubs, as smoke poured out of open windows of the terraced home.

The pub welcomed in families offering them hot drinks after many had to leave their homes in a hurry.

The fire damaged house on Daphne Way, Gorleston all boarded up. Picture: James Bass

The fire damaged house on Daphne Way, Gorleston all boarded up. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Immediate neighbour Joan Wilson, aged 88, said: 'The shock was the knock on the door I got in the first place. I could not stop trembling.

'We had to leave just as we were with the TV on and everything.'

Her 91-year-old husband Sidney was being looked after by neighbours.

Linda and George Lisle, who live in one of the terraced houses, were alerted by police. Mr Lisle said: 'The police were at the door and told us what was going on. With all the smoke damage I doubt we will be going home tonight.'

Mrs Lisle added: 'I would just like to thank the firemen and the police, they have been working really hard - and the Shrubs as they have taken us in and given us coffee.'

The house is believed to be the home of a Gorleston woman who had been missing since Monday, January 18. The family and friends of Emma Carter, 33, had widely shared her photo on Facebook in a bid to find her, but police confirmed yesterday that she had been found.

Once the National Grid had cut off the gas supply to the house at 9.55pm - which involved digging up the road and disconnecting the live service pipe - Mr Wilby said that fire crews were able to put out the fire in around five minutes, and then carry out a full sweep of the house to confirm that nobody was inside. They had already conducted a partial sweep on arrival, and there were no casualties.

The National Grid said it was not unusual for the procedure to take the amount of time it did, due to the varying circumstances and difficulty of the job.

Investigations took place into the cause of the fire yesterday, and it is thought that surrounding properties will have only suffered slight smoke damage.