Emergency services are currently at the scene of a major fire in the middle of Sudbury.
Police were alerted by the fire service around 6.25pm to reports of a fire and people trapped in a flat at Market Hill. The fire service began rescuing people from the building as police and ambulance personnel attended to assist.
Four people needed medical treated, one at the scene, while a man in his 50s, a women in her 40s and a woman in her 70s were taken to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds to be treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation.
Shortly after 7pm police began a full-scale evacuation of the immediate area as the fire spread. As of 7.30pm up to 20 people had been moved from their homes.
At its height, the fire service had 15 appliances and 80 firefighters at the scene in a bid to get the blaze under control.
The fire has now been contained, although fire crews remain on site. Two buildings are thought to have been destroyed and others have been damaged.
Police and fire will start an investigation into the cause of the blaze and anyone who may have information that may assist is asked to contact Suffolk Police on 101, quoting CAD 336 of today, Sunday 6 September.
Police are advising residents and motorists that Friars Street will remain closed between Station Road and the market place on Monday.
There will also be a facility at the Town Hall in Sudbury from 8am tomorrow morning, Monday 7 September where any member of the public or business representatives can get more information and advice.
Luke Cresswell, a teaching assistant and local councillor, said: “I saw around 20 people being evacuated. They were given covers and looked really upset.
“There were families including children. They looked really shaken up, some of them were crying. A couple of the young girls only looked around five or six years-old and were very upset.
“They were given blankets and taken to the side by an ambulance where they were being looked after.”
Others were trapped inside a flat and had to be rescued as the fire ripped through several shops and adjoining flats in the town centre.
Cllr Cresswell, 27, said: “You could see them come out with firemen and women.
“The fire is huge and proper black. I kept thinking it had died down but it flared up again. The fire is literally right in the middle of the town centre.”
He said it looked like the fire had started in a nail shop and spread to a charity shop and bank. All the shops have flats above them.
Hundreds of people watched as the fire raged.
Emergency services would not let the crowds within 100 metres of the fire as crews continued to battle the blaze.
Sarah Pheby, 28, an administrator whose flat is across the street, said: “The fire looks apocalyptic.
“I could feel the heat of the flames on my face when I looked at it through the window, and that was through my double glazing.
“The first floor of the building has collapsed, it is just a shell now. The roof has gone.
“It started in Celebrity Nails, which isn’t a particularly big shop. Then there was an explosion and it just spread incredibly quickly.”
She said firefighters in cherry pickers were sent up to people trapped in the flats above.
She said: “There was someone in the top floor, I hope they got out OK. I could see them in the top floor window, the firefighters went up there.”