Woman putting out her washing raises alarm after spotting roof top blaze in March town centre - occupants of five flats evacuated.

PUBLISHED: 11:31 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:22 03 May 2017

Fire damage to Broad Street shops and flat complex. PHOTO: Ben Jolley

Fire damage to Broad Street shops and flat complex. PHOTO: Ben Jolley

Archant

Occupants of five flats were evacuated in the early hours of Sunday after fire broke out on the top floor of a three storey shops and flats complex in the centre of March.

Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt.Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt.

The alarm was called just after midnight after Jane Eastwood, a woman who lives in one of the flats was putting out her washing.

Fire damage to Broad Street shops and flat complex. PHOTO: Ben JolleyFire damage to Broad Street shops and flat complex. PHOTO: Ben Jolley

“I know it sounds a strange time of night to be hanging out washing but it was a mild night and besides I didn’t want the wet laundry to remain in a basket overnight,” she said.

Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt. Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt.

Jane noticed flames shooting from the roof and her partner immediately called the fire service.

Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt. Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt.

Emergency services rushed to the building – the Greetings card building near the river in High Street- and found the blaze had started on the roof.

Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt. Fire crews were called to a flat fire above Greetings card shop in Broad Street, March. No one was hurt.

Fire chiefs are investigating how it started – accidentally or deliberately.

It appears guttering was ignited and in turn that meltedthe newly laid roof on the recently refurbished building.

What is puzzling investigators, however, if arson is to blame how access was gained to the roof top; there is no obvious route to the top and anyone involved would have needed to use external ladders to access the roof.

A police spokesman said: “We’re investigating this as arson. Serious damage was caused and we would appeal for any witnesses to contact Fenland CID.”

The blaze broke out sometime between midnight and 12.50am.

None of the flats was badly damaged although a door to one flat needs repairing after fire crews smashed it to gain access.

Crews from March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wisbech attended together with MultiStar appliance from Stanground, along with the Command Unit and support crew from Huntingdon.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used two hose reel and a jet to extinguish the fire and returned to their stations by 3.59am.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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