A fire broke out near the town center of Sudbury Sunday evening, forcing at least 20 people from their homes and destroying several small businesses. At least 15 fire trucks and service vehicles were on the scene to quell the flames, the Suffolk Free Press reported.
The cause has yet to be determined. City officials were concentrating on finding shelter and caring for those who were displaced. Officials evacuated at least 20 residents, and several streets, including Market Hill, were closed, the Free Press reported. Police were informed of the scene around 6:25 p.m. GMT (2:25 p.m. EDT), and flames appeared to have been stopped by around 8:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EDT), local resident and blogger Cath Elliott said on Twitter.
One woman was evacuated from the top floor of an apartment building by a fire ladder. At the time, there were five engines in attendance. That number later increased as officials worked quickly to take care of the flames. An estimated 75 firefighters from 15 crews were at the scene, the East Anglian Daily Times reported. Officials also called in an air ambulance to assist.
— Mike (@MikeOnslow) September 6, 2015
The origin of the fire was not immediately determined. Police had first been informed people were trapped in the apartment building on Market Hill. It later spread to other buildings, which included local businesses. Residents on social media identified Nail Bar and thrift store Oxfam Shop.
“It’s terrible. The Oxfam shop building which has been there for decades has completely gone. It’s really sad,” resident Anne Deacon told the Daily Times. “The police just shouted at everyone to get back because they think the roof might collapse at any minute.”
— Sudbury, Suffolk (@JustSudbury) September 6, 2015
— Cath Elliott (@CathElliott) September 6, 2015
— Sarah Pheby (@Pheb23) September 6, 2015
Elliott reported speculation centered on an explosion at one of the nail shops. Another local resident, Mike, had said on Twitter he heard several explosions and identified Celebrity Nails as one of the first to catch flame.
Smoke was seen miles away from the scene in the town’s center. Sudbury, with a population of more than 13,000 as of the 2011 census, is 60 miles northeast of London.
— christinak (@CKahramanoglou) September 6, 2015
For those who have lost their homes, the town issued they will be accepting donations at the Sudbury library.