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River drama as barge bursts into flames

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:08 03 March 2010

LIFEboat crewmen today leapt to the dramatic rescue of three men, a cat and a dog after a fuel-laden barge burst into flames.

The barge's owner deliberately ran it aground in the middle of the river after the fire started shortly before 7.30am.

LIFEboat crewmen today leapt to the dramatic rescue of three men, a cat and a dog after a fuel-laden barge burst into flames.

The barge's owner deliberately ran it aground in the middle of the river after the fire started shortly before 7.30am.

The barge was loaded with four propane, two oxyacetalyne and two oxygen cylinders, along with 150 gallons of fuel.

After a cylinder on board exploded, the spectacle was visible for miles around Chelmondiston and Levington.

As soon as firefighters arrived, they mounted a huge operation as clouds of smoke billowed down the River Orwell from the crippled St Theresa, a 35ft, 100-ton steel-hulled bunker barge used as a houseboat and usually moored in The Cut in Ipswich Docks.

See tonight's Evening Star for full story and dramatic pictures…

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