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WATCH: Major blaze turns art studio and garage to ash

PUBLISHED: 16:31 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 02 March 2020

The fire at Wensum Arts in Ovington. Photo: John Madeley

The fire at Wensum Arts in Ovington. Photo: John Madeley

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An art studio has been razed to the ground after a blaze ripped through it, destroying years’ worth of artwork and equipment.

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

John Madeley and Krissy Marwood-Cross were at home in Ovington on Friday night when they heard "pops" and a "boom" from outside, and spotted a glow coming from their back garden.

While Miss Marwood rang 999, Mr Madeley, who runs Wensum Arts, rushed outside to see flames bursting from an outbuilding, home to both their garage and studio, and managed to grab his keys and move his car away from the front of the building.

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

The 58-year-old said: "I could see the flames were taking hold and creeping across the roof."

As they started to lick the windows of the couple's house, he grabbed a hose to keep them under control until the fire service arrived.

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

Over the next few hours, Mr Madeley said the studio and garage was declared a "lost cause" as five fire engines battled to stop the flames spreading to their home.

The inferno reduced the studio to ash and rubble, and destroyed the car - its engine was melted and Mr Madeley described its wheels as "molten blobs".

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

Now, the pair are trying to come to terms with the loss and are waiting for a loss adjustor to assess the damage and next steps in terms of insurance.

"There was a brand new potter's wheel in there, as well as a wood burner, work stations, easels, oil paints and paintings that had been finished or nearly completed for Open Studios," he said. "I teach art as well so I had my teaching equipment in there.

The fire damage at Wensum Arts. Photo: John MadeleyThe fire damage at Wensum Arts. Photo: John Madeley

"My partner does pottery, which you fire at upwards of 1,200C in a kiln, but we found that in the ash as even that didn't survive.

"I had artwork in there going back to 1978, it's all ash now."

Among the ruins, Mr Madeley said a photo of his daughter as a baby had survived, after being found face down in a water butt.

He said the severity of the impact meant the fire service had no indication of what caused the blaze - they initially suspected the wood burner, but it was not lit.

The fire damage at Wensum Arts. Photo: John MadeleyThe fire damage at Wensum Arts. Photo: John Madeley

The art teacher has been forced to cancel his classes this week, and will now assess which materials and kit he needs.

"What frightened us most was how quickly it took hold," he said. "Between us hearing noises and the bang of the fuel tank, the car was well ablaze."

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

Wensum Arts runs arts classes at venues around Norfolk - including Eaton Park Community Centre, Frere Road Community Centre, Harford Community Centre, Shrublands Community Centre in Gorleston and Connaught Hall in Attleborough.

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

Damage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John MadeleyDamage sustained in the fire at Wensum Arts near Watton. Photo: John Madeley

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