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19 June 2014, 14:08
A fire has destroyed the roof and bell tower of a Grade II listed church building in Ropley near Winchester.
The fire was discovered at St Peter's Church, which dates back to Norman times, at approximately 8:50am this morning.
12 fire engines and support vehicles were sent to the scene to battle the rapidly developing fire. Up to 80 firefighters were involved.
Officer in charge of the incident, Area Manager Steve Foye said:
"This was a significant fire that has seriously affected a prominent building within the village. Crews have worked hard in arduous conditions to bring the fire under control.
"We are still working with partner agencies to bring this incident to a close. We would like to thank the local community for their support during this time."
Also at the scene of the incident, Reverend Royston Such of St Peter's Church, Ropley said: "Although we have tragically lost our church building, the real value of a church is its congregation and community and these, thank God, are all safe."
Firefighters have visited local residents to offer reassurance. They are also working with the local primary school to ensure that parents can safely collect their children at the end of the school day due to road closures throughout the village.
Crews spent the day dampening down. A fire investigation will take place in due course.