Crews feared loss of his­toric sta­tion

DRAMA OF HUGE BLAZE RELIVED ONE YEAR ON

Nottingham Post - - NEWS - By MATT JARRAM

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS feared Not­ting­ham may lose its train sta­tion after the rooftop was en­gulfed in flames which rapidly spread through the main en­trance of the build­ing.

Bryn Cole­man, in­ci­dent com­man­der of Not­ting­hamshire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice, and Sarah Turner, gen­eral man­ager of East Mid­lands Trains, have spo­ken about the dev­as­tat­ing fire which broke out in the ladies’ toi­lets at 6.25am Jan­uary 12, 2018 - one year on.

Both said there were se­ri­ous con­cerns that the his­toric build­ing could have been de­stroyed in the blaze be­cause fire-fight­ers ini­tially strug­gled to find the fire as it was in roof voids.

Mr Cole­man, who was in charge of more than 60 fire­fight­ers at the in­ci­dent, told the Post: “The chal­lenge was the fire spread from the toi­lets and got into the roof voids above the plat­form.

“There was sig­nif­i­cant con­cern at 10am that the fire was spread­ing through the voids and it was go­ing to af­fect the en­trance of the sta­tion, which is the his­toric side.

“There was lim­ited vis­i­bil­ity, it was hot, we got fire-fight­ers in the con­course and the voids and put a fire break in by cut­ting the ceil­ing away to stop it spread­ing.

“The big­gest con­cern is when a fire is trav­el­ling un­seen be­cause it can cut off a fire­fighter’s es­cape routes.

“As an in­ci­dent com­man­der it is al­ways con­cern­ing when you have an iconic build­ing with a big glow above it and it is not un­der con­trol.”

Be­tween 60 and 70 pas­sen­gers had to be evac­u­ated from the build­ing.

The fire was fi­nally put out at 5.50pm, but it caused ma­jor dis­rup­tion for hun­dreds of train pas­sen­gers as well as on the roads sur­round­ing the sta­tion.

Net­work Rail said the re­pair bill was es­ti­mated at around £2m.

British Trans­port Po­lice, which in­ves­ti­gates crimes on the rail­ways, de­scribed the fire as ar­son but so far no one has been brought to jus­tice.

Mrs Turner, 39, gen­eral man­ager of East Mid­lands Trains, was about to board a train for a team meet­ing from Not­ting­ham to Lon­don at 6.31am when the fire alarm went off.

She said: “The an­nounce­ment was clear - we needed to evac­u­ate the train and there was staff around di­vert­ing cus­tomers as­sertively. I walked to the front of the sta­tion where it was en­gulfed in smoke. We knew there was a prob­lem.

“In just min­utes it went from quite smoky to com­pletely black. You couldn’t see. We had to move cus­tomers fur­ther away from the sta­tion.

“I was on the phone to the manag­ing di­rec­tor. I said ‘I don’t know how bad the sit­u­a­tion is.’ I was on Queen Street and I looked up and the ceil­ing was on fire. I said ‘I will have to call you back.’

“It was spread­ing fast. At one point, fire­fight­ers said they did not know where the fire was be­cause it had gone into the voids. It was a heart-wrench­ing mo­ment.

“Staff were fan­tas­tic, how hard they worked. At about 10am, the fire com­man­der said ‘we are con­cerned that the fire is mov­ing to­wards the main en­trance and the his­toric listed build­ing. “Your heart sinks, but within 30 min­utes they had con­tained that part of the build­ing.” Fire crews said it was one of the most chal­leng­ing and com­plex fires they have ever tack­led, due to its lo­ca­tion and the ef­fect it had on the trans­port net­work. Mr Cole­man added: “It was af­fect­ing the whole of the coun­try’s rail­way net­work, with pas­sen­gers de­layed as far as Bris­tol, Liver­pool and Leeds. “It was a de­lib­er­ate act, started in the toi­lets, a crim­i­nal act. It was the most sig­nif­i­cant fire.” Bruce Keel­ing is the watch man­ager at Lon­don Road Fire Sta­tion who was on duty when the call came through at 6.30am.

He said: “There was very heavy and thick smoke in the main sta­tion con­course so our plan was to fight the fire from an­other part of the build­ing. “The fire it­self spread from the newer part of the build­ing to the his­toric struc­ture, mak­ing fire­fight­ing very com­plex.

It is al­ways con­cern­ing when you have an iconic build­ing with a big glow above it and it is not un­der con­trol.

Bryn Cole­man

“I think ev­ery­one who at­tended the in­ci­dent would say that it was a very in­tense fire. It was cer­tainly a mem­o­rable in­ci­dent for any crew who at­tended.”

Mrs Turner, who has worked for East Mid­lands Trains for nearly five years, de­scribed what it was like to go into work on the day after the fire.

“It was quite emo­tional,” she said. “From the out­side, you could not see the dam­age but when you went in it was ex­ten­sive. It has ran into the mil­lions. It has taken about a year to get it back up and run­ning. We are al­most there and it is just the lifts now.”

British Trans­port Po­lice said they had “worked tire­lessly” to in­ves­ti­gate the fire but CCTV hard drives had been very badly dam­aged in the flames.

A 33-year-old woman was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of ar­son in Derby but was re­leased un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Granville Sell­ers from British Trans­port Po­lice, said: “We have spent many months work­ing with spe­cial­ist dig­i­tal foren­sic teams to re­cover this es­sen­tial ev­i­dence.

“This work has now been com­pleted and we are now fi­nal­is­ing our in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has re­vealed new lines of en­quiry which are be­ing pur­sued.”

Fire crews faced a huge task tack­ling the blaze which spread through roof voids. In­set, in­ci­dent com­man­der Bryn Cole­man

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