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UPDATED: Massive fire in Felsted School boarding house
4:10pm Monday 16th July 2012 in News
AT least 50 firefighters have been called on to tackle a massive blaze at Felsted School.
There were 25 students inside the boarding house when the building was evacuated, but nobody was injured.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at around 7pm last night. They managed to contain it by 11.40pm.
They remain onsite to damp down Follyfield House which is still being affected by smoke.
Structural engineers are assessing the damage.
A full investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.
Station officer Sean Walsh said: "We can’t rule out anything yet.
"The investigators are doing their bit and the police are interviewing local residents."
Assistant divisional officer Vernon Kendall, officer in charge, said: "The building is no longer on fire but it is smouldering and there are hotspots throughout.
“Ours is now a watching brief. We will continue to put water on to cool it and ensuring that the fire does not flare back up again."
“Crews are pouring water in through the top of the building.
Deputy headteacher Chris Townsend said the school had already broken up for the summer.
He said: "The area was evacuated and nobody was injured."
The boarding house for girls would normally house 60 pupils but at the time there were 25 staying in another part of the building.
Originally crews from Braintree, Thaxted, Chelmsford, Coggeshall,Halstead and Witham attended.
Poor water supply hindered the fire crews on site and by 9pm the fire was burning over four floors and the roof.
Incident commander, Ray Skinner, said: "On arrival crews were faced with an already well developed and fiercely burning fire in a building with three floors and a basement.
"The building was empty.”
By 10pm the entire roof was on fire with 70 per cent of the first floor and 20 per cent of the ground floor also burning.
Half an hour later, eight new fire crews were called to replace those who had already been tackling the fire for three-and-a-half-hours.
By 11pm crews, still struggling with a lack of water, were trying to save another house next door which was only four metres from the blaze.
At the time, Mr Skinner said: "We are using the high volume pump to get water from a lake around half a mile away.
"Crews will be here throughout the night working to contain the fire and this will supply the many gallons of water they will need.
"Firefighters have been working extremely hard in difficult conditions.”