Power restored to hundreds of homes after huge pallet fire in Tibenham spreads to overhead power lines

A blaze at Tibenham. Picture: Angela Sharpe

A blaze at Tibenham. Picture: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant

Nearly 400 homes were left without power after hundreds of wooden pallets caught fire at a remote outdoor storage area, spreading to high voltage power lines hanging overhead.

A blaze at Tibenham. Picture: Angela Sharpe

A blaze at Tibenham. Picture: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant

Firefighters from Diss were called to the site in Long Row, in Tibenham, at around 1.30pm on Saturday (September 13), where bright orange flames could be seen shooting up into the sky.

Crews from Harleston, Attleborough, Sprowston and Carrow later arrived to help tackle the large blaze, with firefighters using covering jets to contain the spread of the flames and stop it spreading to nearby buildings.

They then used main jets, hose reel jets and compressed air foam to bring the fire under control, as well as bringing in two water carriers from Fakenham and Hethersett to ensure there was enough water to fight the fire.

UK Power Networks quickly arrived on scene after 381 customers in the village lost power supplies.

A fire on a property in Long Row, Tibenham

A fire on a property in Long Row, Tibenham - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

'Our staff worked as quickly and safely as possible to restore electricity supplies to 334 customers by 3pm,' a UK Power Networks spokesman said.

'The remaining 47 customers had their power restored in stages by 2.15am on Sunday.

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'We understand how difficult it is being without electricity and would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.'

The fire was out by 4.30pm - but Norfolk Fire and Rescue incident commander Duncan Ashworth said crews did not leave until 6.15pm, as the high amount of flammable material meant they had to spend a lot of time damping down hotspots.

A fire on a property in Long Row, Tibenham

A fire on a property in Long Row, Tibenham - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

'When we got there, there was a large area of stacked pallets adjacent to workshops and buildings which was well alight,' he said.

'There were cables hanging down and they were alive. However UK Power Networks attended early on and made it safe for us to operate within the area.

'The pallets were gone. Our emphasis was on protecting the buildings and making sure the fire didn't spread any further than it did.

'The pallets were reduced down to a charcoal, which still retains a lot of heat. There were a lot of combustible materials in a fairly close, confined area, which made it quite difficult working conditions for the crews.'

A fire on a property in Long Row, Tibenham

A fire on a property in Long Row, Tibenham - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Mary Longwater, who lives in Long Row, said she only realised something was going on when she heard the sound of sirens.

'I wondered what on earth was going on - there were so many sirens. I looked out of my window and could just see smoke so went down and had a look. It looked awful but they must be grateful that no buildings caught fire too,' she said.

Were you affected? Contact reporter Andrew Papworth on 07834 839153 or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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