Sudbury fire: People evacuated after major fire breaks out in historic market town

Fire crews have already rescued at least 20 people trapped in a block of flats engulfed by the fire

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The Independent Online

A major fire has broken out in an historic market town forcing police to evacuate the area.

Fire crews have already rescued at least 20 people trapped in a block of flats engulfed by the fire.

More than 75 firefighters are tackling the blaze in Market Hill, Sudbury, which began at about 6.25pm this evening.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: "Shortly after 7pm, police began a full-scale evacuation of the immediate area as the fire spread.

"As of 7.30pm up to 20 people had been moved from their homes.

“Police have also begun contacting business keyholders where possible.

"The fire service is believed to have 15 appliances at the scene in a bid to get the blaze under control.

"The cause of the fire is currently unknown, with the priority being public safety, and arrangements being made to house those who have been evacuated."

Luke Cresswell, a teaching assistant and local councillor, said: "I saw around 20 people being evacuated. They were given covers and looked really upset.

"There were families including children. They looked really shaken up, some of them were crying.

“A couple of the young girls only looked around five or six years-old and were very upset.

"They were given blankets and taken to the side by an ambulance where they were being looked after."

Cllr Cresswell, 27, said: "You could see them come out with firemen and women.

"The fire is huge and proper black. I kept thinking it had died down but it flared up again. The fire is literally right in the middle of the town centre."

He said it looked as though the fire had started in a nail shop and spread to a charity shop and bank. All these premises have flats above them.

Sarah Pheby, an administrator who lives across the road from where the fire broke out, said: "I could feel the heat of the flames on my face when I looked at it through the window, and that was through my double glazing.

"The first floor of the building has collapsed, it is just a shell now. The roof has gone."

Three people have been taken to hospital for treatment.

East of England Ambulance Service said the patients, a man in his 50s, a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 70s, had minor burns and were suffering smoke inhalation.

They have been taken to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, while another patient was treated at the scene.