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120 evacuated in town blaze drama

PUBLISHED: 13:49 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:29 03 July 2010

AFTERMATH: A teenager has been charged with arson following a blaze at a vehicle workshop in Albert Road in the early hours of last Friday.

AFTERMATH: A teenager has been charged with arson following a blaze at a vehicle workshop in Albert Road in the early hours of last Friday.

A TEENAGER has been remanded in custody to appear before Norwich Crown Court on December 16 in connection with a blaze in the town.

Stephen Trudgill, 18, of no fixed address, appeared before Great Yarmouth magistrates on Tuesday charged with arson following a blaze at a vehicle workshop in Albert Road in the early hours of last Friday.

A TEENAGER has been remanded in custody to appear before Norwich Crown Court on December 16 in connection with a blaze in the town.

Stephen Trudgill, 18, of no fixed address, appeared before Great Yarmouth magistrates on Tuesday charged with arson following a blaze at a vehicle workshop in Albert Road in the early hours of last Friday.

Firefighters ordered the evacuation of 120 people from hotels and houses in neighbouring Havelock Road and Nelson Road South after discovering cylinders containing potentially explosive oxyacetylene gas.

Guests at the Southern Hotel and Taunton House were among those evacuated to the Marina Centre on the seafront for three hours while the fire crews set about tackling the flames.

At the height of the blaze, 40 firefighters battled to stop the flames spreading to neighbouring properties in the narrow street.

Six pump appliances were mobilised along with a control unit and an aerial ladder platform from Earlham, which was used to cascade water down on to the flames.

Watch manager Alan Jaye said the presence of the cylinders, which had the explosive potential of a bomb if overheated, and the confines of the narrow road in which they were working, made it a difficult job.

Residents described hearing a sound similar to stones hitting their roof and opened their curtains to witness the inferno behind their homes.

Glenda Winn, of Havelock Road, Great Yarmouth, was woken by her husband Brian, 64, after he heard the noises.

The couple were shocked when they opened their bedroom curtains at 2.45am to see the fire ripping through the workshop and flat and spreading to the roof of a neighbouring house. They immediately rang the fire brigade.

She said: “My husband thought he heard some noises out there. He thought he heard people out there beforehand and someone throwing stones.”

She added: “We could smell the plastic and stuff coming from the workshop. I just told my husband to get away from the window, shut the curtains and pull the blinds down.”

They stayed in the Marina Centre's Piazza where they were given cups of tea, and Mrs Winn said the evacuees were in good spirits.

Eric Cooper, a guest at Taunton House, had an early breakfast with the hotel's manager Graham Law at Ivy's Café in Southgates Road shortly after leaving the Marina Centre at 7.15am.

The engineer from Whitby said: “The evacuation was carried out in quite a slick fashion, but there were a couple of bits that I thought weren't quite right. There was a lack of information and there was no ambulance here to treat people.”

Fire investigators were on scene straight away, looking into the cause of the fire.

No injuries were reported.


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