‘Lucky escape’ after Ottery church blaze

OTTERY Parish Church had a narrow escape after a smouldering fire caused minor damage to the church floor.

OTTERY Parish Church had a narrow escape after a smouldering fire caused minor damage to the church floor.

A spark from a blow lamp used by construction workers at the premises was thought to have caused the fire, which began under the floorboards on Tuesday night.

Fire crews were called to the church early on Wednesday morning after smoke appeared from underneath the wooden floorboards.

Steve King, who opens up the church on Wednesday mornings, called the fire brigade around 8am, and three crews, one from Ottery St Mary, one from Middlemoor, Exeter, and one from Honiton were mobilised.

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The fire was extinguished shortly after with the use of one hose reel and tools were used to cut away hot spots. Michael Moore, vice-chairman of the PCC said: “We were very, very lucky, the fire could have been a lot worse.”

Work is being undertaken at the church to lay a new concrete floor to open out space in the church, and also to install a new central heating system, costing several hundred thousand pounds. The fire was believed to have been started during work to install a radiator on Tuesday, and a spark was able to get underneath the floorboards and ignite. Mr Moore said: “The fire was close to some very old floorboards which would’ve gone up in flames along with the 14th century astronomical clock, and the bell-ropes were hanging down close to the fire as well so it could have easily spread to the belfry.”

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No structural damage was caused and the fire crews had left the scene in under an hour, and building work has been allowed to continue. Mr Moore added: “I think someone is looking down on us after this because this was a narrow escape from something disastrous.”

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