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Response to devastating fires across Long Stratton and Diss



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Two devastating fires have caused untold damage during an unprecedented heatwave.

Four flats and three businesses were destroyed in Long Stratton on Thursday after a parade of shops along the A140 caught fire.

Days later, as temperatures reached 37 degrees, an electrical pylon in Diss caught fire, causing an entire field to erupt in flames, leaving almost 1,000 homes without power.

What remains of the flats above the parade of shops in Long Stratton and, below, the fire in Diss. Picture: Mark Bullimore
What remains of the flats above the parade of shops in Long Stratton and, below, the fire in Diss. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Such was the frequency of incidents across that county that Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident, having received 4,688 calls and attended 280 incidents on Tuesday alone.

Thursday’s fire in Long Stratton engulfed the upper floor of three properties, including Bekays DIY and Hardware Store; and bicycle store Cycle Recycle.

Fire crews from Earlham, Harleston and Hethersett were called to tackle the blaze opposite the Shell garage.

The fire at Boundary Farm. Picture: Ray King (58160150)
The fire at Boundary Farm. Picture: Ray King (58160150)

At the time, an employee from a nearby business said: “There’s an awful lot of firemen around – it’s still very, very smoky.

“We saw when the first one went up. My car was parked behind the back so I went to get it and, within minutes, it had spread right across three shops.”

Traffic was diverted along the B1527, A143 and A146 and A47 as the road was closed to help emergency services deal with the blaze.

Faced with unprecedented demand, firefighters tackled a number of field fires, including this one in Tibenham.Picture: Mark Bullimore
Faced with unprecedented demand, firefighters tackled a number of field fires, including this one in Tibenham.Picture: Mark Bullimore

Matt Murphy, owner of Cycle Recycle, described his devastation following the incident.

In a statement posted to the business’ website, he said: “It looks like we are going to be closed in Long Stratton for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

“Words cannot explain how devastated we are to watch all our hard work go up in flames.

“We wanted to thank everyone who has sent kind messages to us over the last few days.

“With hindsight, we are fortunate. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their treasured possessions.

“The most common thing we have been asked is ‘How can I help?’ – the greatest gift we could receive would be for customers to carry on as normal: booking bicycle services and repairs, buying new and used parts and accessories, and buying upcycled bikes.

“We are overwhelmed with the level of support from our customers, and, in particular, the kind people of Long Stratton.”

While the weather was not a contributing factor in the Long Stratton fire – temperatures were only around 20 degrees at the time of the incident – it is highly likely that it played a role in Diss, which was one of many places across the south of England to fall victim to a two-day record-breaking heatwave.

On Monday, as temperatures soared, emergency services were called to a field fire on Boundary Farm, in Sheflanger Road, at 4.10pm.

Eight fire crews from Diss, Long Stratton, Harleston, Attleborough, Wymondham, Hingham, East Harling and Dereham attended the scene, using hose reel jets and hand appliances to extinguish the fire.

Crews remained on the scene throughout the night to ensure no secondary fires broke out.

The incident is understood to have been caused after an electrical pylon caught fire - leading to around 900 homes finding themselves without power. This was later restored around at 10pm.

Ray King, a bystander who was some hundred feet from the fire, described the scenes.

“At about 4.30pm we heard a number of sirens going along Shelfanger Road,” he said.

“A little bit later, we could see a huge plume of smoke rising in the distance.

“Going on to Louies Lane, a number of people were outside their homes looking in the direction of the smoke and a fire engine was filling up with water.

“This was followed by a number of fire pumps, one a bowser going past from Norfolk and Suffolk, followed by a number of cars – I suspect with people looking to see where the fire was.

“There appeared to be a shortage of water and the fire pumps kept coming back to the hydrants in Louies Lane for water. At one time, we had three engines in the lane. They were still filling up in the evening.”

An ambulance was also called to the incident, although it is not known if anybody was injured.

Emergency services continued to be called to field fires in the following days.

At 2.15pm on Wednesday, appliances from Attleborough, Diss and East Harling attended a field fire in Low Road, Tibenham. It was put out shortly before 3pm.



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