Great Yarmouth pub fire: Investigators cannot rule out people still inside
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Fire investigators have launched a probe after a landmark pub was destroyed by fire in Great Yarmouth.
No fire crews have yet been inside the former Haven Bridge pub which was pumped with water from the river such was the ferocity of the blaze which broke out on Wednesday at around 8pm.
At one point up to 60 fire firefighters and two aerial platforms were working to extinguish the fire which was visible from the A47 Acle Straight.
On Thursday morning three crews were still tackling hot spots and Haven Bridge remained closed to traffic on Bridge Road.
A police cordon also remains in place.
Incident commander Gary Miller said because they had not been able to go inside the building they could not rule out any persons being inside.
The roof was completely gone, the upper floor had collapsed and there were fears the dangerous structure could lead to further properties being evacuated.
Mr Miller said there were still hot spots more than 12 hours after the fire was reported.
He expected crews would remain on scene all morning and that the road would be closed for longer while building control assessed the stability of the large corner building.
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"Due to the stability of the structure we cannot get in," he said.
"It is more effective to get water in without committing crews to the building. We are still damping down hotspots and will be here most of the morning.
"We had hydrants but we did have to go into the river as a back up.
"We were however very lucky that on call stations were training so four crews and an aerial platform were able to get here within minutes which was really effective.
"Fire investigators are due to arrive to try and see what may have been the cause. But the investigation will be difficult.
"At this time we have not been able to put people in there so whether there are casualties is unknown.
"The building has collapsed to the second floor and a lot of water has gone in, and none has gone out. There may even be a basement."
Haven Bridge and Bridge Road remain closed to traffic although pedestrians are being allowed to cross the southern footway.
One man at the scene who was renovating a nearby property was unable to get back in and retrieve his phone as the building lay beyond the police cordon.
A spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue confirmed an investigation had been launched, and would likely be confined to interviews and what could be gleaned from the outside at first.
Station manager for Great Yarmouth Chris Harding-Hook said: "We are carrying out a fire investigation on scene, working in conjunction with Norfolk police and building control colleagues at Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
"The building is currently too unsafe for crews to enter so investigations so far have involved use of our aerial ladder platform.
"The road is likely to remain closed for the next 48 hours while we continue investigating and work to make the area safe for the public."
Inside the investigation will likely involve sifting through a mass fire and water damaged debris, and the destruction appears extensive.
The Haven Bridge pub has undergone a number of reinventions over the years, and until recently was known for its paintwork featuring colourful balloons.
Although it had been trading it is understood it had not reopened since the first lockdown was lifted in 2020.
Meanwhile Great Yarmouth Borough Council said its building control team was working with the Norfolk Fire Service to assess the condition and safety of the building.
A statement said: "We have visited the site and we are working as quickly as we can to make recommendations and put in place the right measures to keep everyone safe.
“We appreciate the disruption the closure of Haven Bridge is causing and are working with Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council highways to minimise this while we deal with the aftermath of the fire.”
It is said the roads will be closed up to 48 hours.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's timeline of the blaze
- Call received at 8.07pm to report the fire
- Crews arrived on scene at 8.11pm
- Fire fighting then began as appliances from Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Acle, Martham, Carrow, Sprowston, Wymondham, and Lowestoft attended
- The stop was called at 10.31pm
- A fire investigation was then launched and is still being conducted