Fire rips through Norfolk thatched roof church
A 1,000-year-old Norfolk church with a thatched roof has been significantly damaged by a raging fire which was tackled by 60 fire-fighters yesterday (February 2).
Eleven fire crews tacked the blaze which tore through the roof of Grade I-listed St Mary's Parish Church in Beachamwell, near Swaffham, yesterday morning.
Workmen had been replacing lead which had been stolen from part of the medieval church and it is believed that the fire was started by a spark from welding equipment.
Terry Pinto, of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, told the BBC: "It was such a beautiful church in the heart of the community.” He said the cause of the blaze was believed to be accidental and a thorough investigation was under way.
"It was a really, really substantial fire. You can see by what's left of the building that it took hold very quickly. We'd hope there would be some parts of the building that would still be salvageable, but we're not in a position to be able to enter the church at the moment."
Structural engineers would now assess the damage, as there were fears about the stability of the church’s historic round tower that houses two large bells, Mr Pinto added.
Foreign Secretary and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, in whose constituency the church is located, has expressed her sorrow and pledged her support. She said on Twitter: “Very sorry to hear of the fire at St Mary’s Church, Beachamwell. Thank you to @Norfolkfire for tackling the blaze. I will do all I can to assist in the restoration of this beautiful church.”
See reports on BBC and EDP24
Pictured above is the fire raging in the historic St Mary's Parish Church in Beachamwell. Picture courtesy of Gary Dent.