Oxfordshire Church Saved After Fire

13 February 2012, 06:42 | Updated: 13 February 2012, 07:33

Fire investigators are looking into how a fire started at a 900-year-old church in Oxfordshire.

The county's fire and rescue service were called to reports of smoke coming from the roof of St Mary The Virgin Church in Charlbury, of which some parts date back to the 12th Century.

The call was received at around 12.30 pm on Sunday the 12th of February. Once the initial fire engines got to the church, they were confronted with large volumes of smoke coming through the tiles on the church roof.

Initially 3 crews attended but it soon became apparent that more support was needed - in the end crews from Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Witney, Banbury, Oxford, Kidlington, Eynsham and Hook Norton were there.

Because of the high volume of smoke inside the church it proved extremely difficult to locate exactly what was on fire.

The crews reported seeing flames above them and a decision was then taken to tackle the fire from above, as well as from inside. They told us once a fire has taken a hold of a roof, it is notoriously difficult to deal with it.

Fire crews began removing parts of the tiled roof forming a break trying to stop it spreading into the main roof. At this stage eight fire engines and three specialist vehicles were involved.

Incident Commander John Nixon said;

"For the first hour of the incident fire crews worked extremely hard to locate and prevent the fire engulfing the entire structure.

"Once access was gained into the roof we began to make headway and mitigate the damage.

"I believe we caught the blaze in time and prevented the entire structure being lost"

The cause of the fire is unknown.