Great Yarmouth residents evacuate homes as former care home hit by fire
- Credit: Ines Diaz
Families were woken in the early hours and forced out onto the street with their young children and pets as a blaze raged at a former care home.
Abbeville Lodge in Acle New Road, Great Yarmouth, closed in 2019 and has since seen a string of fires prompting urgent calls for something to be done.
Nicola Davis described how her husband Trevor was watching a movie when he heard "bangs and popping" outside. Seeing the flames, he moved the family car which was parked metres from where the blaze had taken hold.
The couple, including their two young daughters and 13-year-old son, were evacuated along with the whole of School Road Back who stood wrapped in blankets at the end of the street for over an hour.
Mrs Davis said flames caught an overhanging tree close to her home of 15 years and almost reached power lines.
She said frustration and anger were mounting in the street at the lack of action to tackle the problem building which was being used by homeless people and older teens.
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"It was very scary," she said.
"The tree was alight and the car was there. It needs to be demolished."
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Meanwhile Ines Diaz said she was woken by a loud knock on the door at around 1.30am and had to gather up her two-year-old son and rush along the street to safety.
She said living so close to the derelict building meant living in fear and that her young son had been traumatised by the atmosphere of urgency and panic.
"It's a constant worry," she said.
"You never know when you go to sleep if it could go up in flames. What's next? Will it take for somebody to get seriously hurt before something is done?"
The last major fire at the site was in April when residents said they wanted to move to escape the threat.
Tim Edwards, assistant chief fire officer with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said: "The fire was significant but crews battled hard and quickly gained control, reducing both the risk to the public and any damage to the surrounding environment.
"We will support the police-led investigation into this incident.”