Gales cause chaos in Suffolk

GALE force gusts brought chaos to the county as fallen trees and loose debris blew across roads and strong winds fanned flames resulting in a string of fires.

By Tina Heath

GALE force gusts brought chaos to the county as fallen trees and loose debris blew across roads and strong winds fanned flames resulting in a string of fires.

A pig farm near Woodbridge sustained damage estimated at £6,000 when flames engulfed three animal shelters off Tunstall Road, in Campsea Ashe.

Farmer Mark Hayward admitted that that the steel and straw 'tents' were due to have been filled with pigs in less than 24 hours.

The blaze, which broke out at 4.20pm was among eight emergency call outs attended by Suffolk fire service on Saturday.

In Hundon near Bury strong winds hampered firefighters as they tackled a blaze at a thatched cottage along Chimney Street. The blaze, which at its height saw eight fire engines at the scene, broke out at just before mid day with the last of the crews leaving shortly after 6.30pm.

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Drama hit B&Q Warehouse in Bury Road, Ipswich and when a car in the car park burst into flames just before 12.40pm and set fire to two neighbouring vehicles.

Communications engineer Colin Moffat, 44, captured the drama on film and described how shoppers crowded against the windows as store staff fought to extinguish the flames.

"White smoking was seeping out from the bonnet of the first car, but after a few minutes it turned black and then flames appeared," said Mr Moffat of Cambridge who was in town on business.

"People were trying to read out the car registration numbers to get people to move them but nobody wanted to get too close, I think they were worried in case the petrol tank exploded."

Suffolk Police attended more than 150 wind related incidents over the weekend from fallen trees to loose scaffolding and barriers blowing across main roads.

A motorist suffered minor injuries when a tree struck his land rover on the A14 close to the exit for the sugar beet factory.

Inspector Ben Cook of Suffolk Police admitted: "We had chaos with the wind and the trees".

Rail services between East Anglia and London were disrupted by the wind which blew debris across the line and into overhead cables.

Speed restrictions were applied to much of the line, and the section between Gidea Park and Shenfield in south Essex was closed for a short time after debris lodged in the overhead cables.

In Ipswich firefighters battled for nearly an hour to contain a blaze when two tonnes of wood caught fire along Bucklesham Road. The fire started just before 2.40pm.

Less than five minutes earlier two fire engines were called to the scene of a blaze at Hall Farm off the A12 at Gisleham near Lowestoft when a fire, which started in a derelict car spread to engulf four tonnes of horse manure and a hedgerow.

Another car fire on the east bound carriageway of the A14 was reported shortly after 2.20pm and less than an hour later a tree caught fire next to the B1077 at Aspall, two miles north of Debenham. The blaze broke out just before 3.10pm.

Three fires were on going simultaneously later on Saturday afternoon.

While retained firefighters from Saxmundham, Leiston, Aldeburgh, Woodbridge, Orford and the water carrier from Framligham fought the blaze at the pig farm in Campsea Ashe crews were also tackling near Bury and Bungay.

Firefighters took more than two hours to quell a blaze at a farm near Bury. Flames, which engulfed 20 tonnes of muck were in danger of spreading to adjacent buildings. The blaze, which broke out at around 4.15pm was under control by just before 6.30pm.

Ten minutes after the blaze broke out at Heath Farm, Main Road Little Livermere sparks from a wood burner set fire to a chimney on a house in nearby Barsham. The blaze at Rectory Cottage was extinguished by 5.20pm.

ADO Martyn Thorpe, who attended the blaze at Campsea Ashe said that strong winds had fanned flames and caused problems for firefighters.

"The wind factor enhanced (the fires) by spreading sparks and inducing more air," he said.

B&Q Warehouse store manager Graham Middleton confirmed that attempts had been made to evacuate cars parked near the burning vehicles.

"We just tried to deal with the situation as best we could. In the extent of a busy Saturday we were relived that the fire brigade attended and prevented what could have been a much bigger problem if the car had exploded," he said.

n About 9,000 turkeys belonging to Bernard Matthews were killed as one shed was totally destroyed by fire fanned by winds gusting up to 70 mph.

Fire crews and 300 personnel helped tackle the blaze at Woodforde Farm, Weston Longville yesterday evening.