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WATCH: Investigation launched into arson at council offices

PUBLISHED: 17:57 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:57 03 January 2018

The fire damaged Fakenham Connect building.  Picture: Kathryn Cross

The fire damaged Fakenham Connect building. Picture: Kathryn Cross

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A fire at Fakenham Connect this morning was started deliberately, police have said.

A fire broke out at the Fakenham Connect offices on Oak Street.  Picture: Amy Hammond A fire broke out at the Fakenham Connect offices on Oak Street. Picture: Amy Hammond

Four fire crews were called to the North Norfolk District Council building on Oak Street at 7.45am after a member of the public raised the alarm.

It was put out within 50 minutes but the fire service and police are treating it as arson and have launched a joint investigation.

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said it appears that the fire started in a bin store and were appealing for information and witnesses to come forward. The investigation team also will be looking at CCTV cameras.

One fire crew remained at the scene for a couple of hours and was due to return to check for hot spots later in the afternoon.

A fire crew outside Fakenham Connect offices where a fire broke out.  Picture: Kathryn Cross A fire crew outside Fakenham Connect offices where a fire broke out. Picture: Kathryn Cross

Although the fire mainly damaged a single storey extension to the left of the building, Gary Thorpe, watch manager for Norfolk Fire Service in Fakenham, said they were concerned for the whole site.

“There was significant potential for the whole building to be involved but the efforts of the crews meant it was contained,” he said. “That is why we got four appliances in attendance. It had got into the roof on the building to the side so we had to expose that to get into the void but the main building was mainly damaged by smoke and some water damage from pipes.”

The building is home to the district council, Fakenham Town Council, Norfolk County Council children’s services and the Job Centre and will be closed for the rest of the week.

Anyone concerned about how to claim their benefits should contact the Dereham Job Centre at the Breckland Council offices on 0800 169 0190.

Fire damaged the Fakenham Connect offices.  Picture: Kathryn Cross Fire damaged the Fakenham Connect offices. Picture: Kathryn Cross

The First Focus building with the Scout Hall was undamaged but is also closed due to the smoke and having no water.

A district council spokesman said: “Our thanks to the fire crews who attended and extinguished the fire quickly. Thankfully, no staff were present in the building at the time of the fire and no one was hurt.

“Work will now begin to repair the damage and to restore power so the building can be reopened as soon as possible.”

Anyone needing assistance can contact the Customer Service team in Cromer on 01263 513811 or visit the website at www.north-norfolk.gov.uk.

Fakenham Connect is home to North Norfolk District Council, the Job Centre and Fakenham Town Council.  Picture: Kathryn Cross Fakenham Connect is home to North Norfolk District Council, the Job Centre and Fakenham Town Council. Picture: Kathryn Cross

Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area or anyone with information should contact PC Susie Crowe at Fakenham Police Station on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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