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UPDATE: Town centre streets reopen following fire at historic Bury St Edmunds building and restaurant

16:15 18 June 2012

Firefighters battle through Saturday night to tackle the major fire in the historic Cupola House in the Traverse, Bury St Edmunds

Firefighters battle through Saturday night to tackle the major fire in the historic Cupola House in the Traverse, Bury St Edmunds

Archant

Traffic can now travel along key roads in Bury St Edmunds, including Cornhill and the Buttermarket following Saturday’s fire.

But The Traverse - where the fire happened - and Skinner Street are still closed.

Firefighters are still tackling the blaze at historic Cupola House, which is home to Strada restaurant, in Bury St Edmunds.

The blaze at Cupola House, which is home to Strada restaurant, broke out just before 9pm in the basement, where the kitchen is located.

A meeting took place at 10am today with engineers, the fire service, owners of the affected buildings, Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

They decided the priorities are: firefighting, structural safety, English Heritage, the cordon and to re-open businesses.

Speaking at the scene earlier today, Pat Dacey, district commander for the west district group for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said they were still tackling the deep-seated fire and trying to prevent it spreading to adjoining buildings.

He said there was still the risk that Cupola House may collapse.

“There is now going to be a decision about whether we can save the front facade as English Heritage obviously want to have it saved.

“We would like to help and save the front of the building if we can,” he said.

He added: “It is a really important building and we are doing our best to save it.”

Just before midnight on Saturday the cupola - from which the building takes its name - collapsed and then at 2.30am there was a major structural collapse at the rear of the building. The now unsupported front facade of the building has buckled.

A metal fence is now in place as the cordon around the area.

Mr Dacey: “It’s residential as well. The amount of impact this has had on people and families is quite high and we are working really hard to minimise that impact and get things back to normal for people.”

Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for culture and sport at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said the borough council was working with its partners to get businesses open as soon as possible.

“If people want information please go to our website and the Bid4Bury website.

“Our main aim now is now to get the town centre open, including the market on Wednesday. Other businesses are open, but we are working hard to get these businesses that are immediately affected open as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said there were 42 businesses closed as a result of the fire, including Strada and the two buildings either side, and they were working to open the ones outside of the cordon.

The new metal cordon takes in a smaller area than the tape cordon.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury, said only 12 businesses currently remained closed, plus Strada.

On Saturday night, the blaze was fought by more than 80 firefighters and there were 16 appliances.

Due to the swift action of Strada staff, the 120 people inside the restaurant at the time the fire was detected had all been evacuated swiftly and safely by the time firefighters arrived.

Work has begun on the fire investigation, but it is not safe enough for officers to go inside Cupola House. They are building up a picture of what happened from firefighters and witnesses.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental.

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