Downham Market firefighters tried in vain to suppress station blaze

Downham watch manager Kim Scotney after the devastating blaze.
Downham watch manager Kim Scotney after the devastating blaze.
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A leading firefighter at Downham and his crew had to stand back as flames devoured their station and all of their equipment.

Watch manager Kim Scotney and nine of his retained firefighters tried to get into their burning station but were unable to get to their equipment.

Mr Scotney said he was “gutted” by the incident but has vowed that the blaze will not stop his crew from providing cover for Downham and the surrounding area.

The team received a call-out for a building fire but were not aware that their station was alight until they got to Ryston Close.

He said: “We saw the smoke coming across the road and just assumed it was a car fire. The smoke was so thick you could hardly see then we realised it was the station.

“We tried in vain to see if we could suppress the fire but we couldn’t get in to get any equipment to fight it from the outside.

“We had a spare appliance at the back of the station, as a couple of people are on driver training. But we couldn’t get to the keys as they were in a locker close to the fire.

“Within 10 minutes it was a ferocious fire and started to go through the roof. All of a sudden there were several explosions.

“We felt helpless. We are firefighters and felt we should be able to do something but we were unable to.”

Firefighters from Lynn, Methwold, Swaffham, Littleport, Wisbech, Terrington, along with a water carrier from Fakenham and the control unit from Wymondham attended.

Mr Scotney believes an electrical fault on the fire engine, which had helped with flooding in the Thames Valley earlier this year, may have sparked the blaze. It was brought under control within an hour.

The station contained fuel, oil and oxygen cylinders. The fire engine also had compressed air cylinders.

The blaze had left a twisted shell of the fire engine and destroyed all of the crew’s equipment and personal possessions. A rescue raft, which arrived two weeks ago, was also lost in the fire.

Mr Scotney, who also works in the fire department at RAF Lakenheath, said: “At the end of the day, no-one was hurt and killed. Things can be replaced.”

A fully kitted out fire engine arrived at the station this morning and firefighters have been given a few rooms at the neighbouring police station.

Mr Scotney said: “We have still got fire cover. We have lost our station but we have not lost cover for the area. The police have been kind enough to help us with a building and we will continue to provide cover. It won’t beat us.”

The crew were due to run a car wash on Saturday, March 15, to raise money for the firefighters charity. But the power washer and other equipment were destroyed in the blaze.

Mr Scotney is hoping to still run the car wash but is appealing for equipment and site in the town.

- If you can help contact reporter Victoria Fear on 01553 817321 or email