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3 May 2011, 10:22
Families living near a building site in Southampton have been evacuated from their homes overnight, after a big fire.
Fire crews were called at 02:43am today (3rd May) to the fire at Thorold Road at Bitterne Park in Southampton.
The fire involved a four floor building and a separate premises consisting of a terrace of three town houses. Both buildings were under construction.
Control operators mobilised three fire appliances and the Special Equipment Unit from St Mary’s Fire Station, two fire appliances from Redbridge, one fire appliance and the Aerial Ladder Platform from Hightown, one fire appliance and the Multi-Role Vehicle from Eastleigh and one fire appliance with CAFS (Compressed Air Foam System) from Winchester . The Incident Command Unit and Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) vehicle were also mobilised from Service Headquarters in Eastleigh.
A total of 50 fire-fighters together with senior officers and support staff were in attendance.
Watch Manager Shaun Cheeseman on the first fire appliance to arrive advised: “We could see the flames coming up over the hill as we came over Cobden Bridge. On arrival the first building was well alight with burning embers showering the premises behind and neighbouring properties. The call had come in as ‘persons reported’ and we had to treat it as such until our investigations proved otherwise and it became apparent that the building was under renovation and unoccupied. I called for further assistance upon discovery of the second fire in the new build premises in the grounds behind.”
He continued: “Our main priority was to stop the spread of fire and both buildings were surrounded by water as fire-fighters tackled the blaze. Crews cleared hot embers that had covered the cars parked in the vicinity and also dampened down the private dwelling next door to as it was at obvious risk of catching fire. As a precaution sixteen local residents and four dogs were evacuated from neighbouring properties by our colleagues in the police.”
Volunteers on call with the Red Cross in Hampshire assisted. Mobilised by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) team made their way to the incident to provide emotional and practical support to the residents of the adjoining properties who had been evacuated from their homes.
The FESS vehicle is kitted out with necessities such as a clothing bank, toiletries, a phone, documents and space for a team of Red Cross volunteers to offer hands on help at the scene of the fire. As well as immediate assistance, the Red Cross volunteers can also contact a victim’s insurance company, arrange alternative accommodation, help to secure a property and sort out utilities.
Crews remain at the scene and a fire investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.