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Roof at derelict former Pontins site collapsed as 95 firefighters tackled blaze

PUBLISHED: 07:20 18 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:45 19 August 2018

A large fire is being fought in Hemsby. PHOTO: Tim Edwards

A large fire is being fought in Hemsby. PHOTO: Tim Edwards

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Fifteen fire crews fought a large fire on the old Pontins site in Hemsby in the early hours of this morning.

At its height, more than 90 firefighters were on the scene.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service area manager Tim Edwards said: “Three pumps with a high reach vehicle and water bowser will be remaining on scene for most of today.”

Beach Road had closed earlier, but is now open.

Group manager Simon Mason said a number of calls were made to control with the first appliance on scene at 1.13am.

“The fire was very severe and the entire frontage of the building, measuring around 75m by 60m, was involved in fire.”

At the height of the blaze, 12 appliances and associated specialist units tackled the fire with around 90 firefighters on the scene. The blaze had engulfed the former reception area at the front of the building, with the roof having collapsed - making it difficult for the fire crews to access the “pockets of fire” inside.

Appliances from Martham, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Stalham, Carrow, Wroxham, Aylsham, Loddon, Sprowston, North Walsham, Lowestoft, Hingham, Wells, Long Stratton, Watton, Diss, Mundesley, Attleborough, Reepham, aerial ladder platforms from Earlham and Kings Lynn, a control unit from Wymondham, water carriers from Hethersett and Fakenham and the high volume pump from Thetford attended the fire on Beach Road.

Mr Mason added: “The crews did a very efficient job in containing the fire very quickly and stopping it spreading to further parts of the site.”

A lot of smoke could be seen wafting across the area, but despite the initial road closure of Beach Road the fire was quickly contained and the road was reopened by 7am.

Four crews remain at the scene and are likely to be there for the majority of the weekend.

Group manager Simon Mason added: “Hemsby is very much open for business.”

Councillor James Bensly’s borough council ward includes Hemsby and Winterton, and he has a cafe on Beach Road.

He said: “It was quite a shock to see the scale of it thankfully the local police were very good and got the roads sorted in conjunction with the fire service.”

The 2,440-capacity camp in Hemsby has been empty since 2008 when Pontin’s closed it “following a period of sustained operating losses”.

The fire is the latest in a string of similar incidents at the site.

Plans were entered for its re-development in June of this year.

Firefighters tackle the blaze at the former Pontins site in Hemsby.Firefighters tackle the blaze at the former Pontins site in Hemsby.

Northern Trust Company Ltd entered plans for 190 homes, retail development and holiday accommodation on the 22-acre site in Beach Road.

A decision on the plans is due by September 7.

In September last year, six crews fought a blaze in the roof of a former function room, while two crews also fought a small fire in July of that year.

A similar incident took place in April 2016, with six crews fighting an incident that was treated as arson, in which two derelict blocks of chalets were set alight.

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