UPDATE: Essex fire crews continue to deal with fatal Saffron Walden house blaze

PUBLISHED: 12:48 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 22:04 31 May 2010

The scene in Mill Lane this morning (Picture: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service)

The scene in Mill Lane this morning (Picture: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service)

FIREFIGHTERS are continuing to tackle a fire in Saffron Walden that has claimed the lives of an elderly couple, a third relative is still unaccounted for.

Two Essex fire crews from Saffron Walden, and one each from Newport and Thaxted, were called to the

FIREFIGHTERS are continuing to tackle a fire in Saffron Walden that has claimed the lives of an elderly couple, a third relative is still unaccounted for.

Two Essex fire crews from Saffron Walden, and one each from Newport and Thaxted, were called to the property in Mill Lane at 8.41am this morning (December 11).

Senior Divisional Officer Julian Ashley of the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) said: "If there is a third person in the property, it is unlikely that they would have survived the conditions. We will resume our search once the house is safe."

The search has been hindered by a gas leak forcing the firefighters to withdraw from the building. Mill Lane has also been blocked off to the public, however the gas board is on site to locate and isolate the leak.

A fire service spokesman said the first floor of the semi-detached house was "well alight" on arrival and the fire spread to the roof of the two-storey building. While the fire has been extinguished there are still hot spots within the building.

ECFRS' Urban Search and Rescue team had to be mobilised from Lexden to make the building safe before crews go back inside to search for a third person, who remains unaccounted for.

"The intensity of the fire has severely damaged the structure of the buildling," said SDO Ashley.

"There are still pockets of fire in the roof, but we have had to pull crews out because the building is unsafe. Once USAR has made the building safe we will resume our search for a third casualty believed to be inside.

"On arrival at the scene crews were faced with a well developed fire and 80 per cent of the building was alight. Firefighters have worked well in difficult conditions but there is significant damage to the building and it is unsafe for firefighters to now work inside.


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