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UPDATE WITH VIDEO: Southbourne blaze was accidental, fire service says
A FIRE that damaged a house in Southbourne was an accident, it has been confirmed.
A Dorset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said this afternoon that there was nothing to suggest that the fire was started deliberately.
Firefighters revisited the scene this morning to try to find out what caused it.
An investigation team went back to the property in Southbourne Road following the blaze on Saturday evening.
Two crews were initially sent to the scene at 5.28pm following a call made by a member of the public, who reported seeing flames coming from the building - thought to be a house sectioned into flats - close to the junctions of Cromwell Road and Sunnyhill Road.
At the height of the operation five crews were on the scene, including the aerial ladder platform.
Firefighters left the scene at 9.40pm.
Ken Hasketh, 71, a neighbour, said: "I came out of my house and thought that the chimney was on fire.
"I rang all of the doorbells of the flat, knocked on the door and felt that it was hot. I could see flames inside of the house in the hallway and I heard the windows blow out at the back, which I assume is from the heat.
"I knocked on the neighbour's doors and one of them used their mobile to ring 999."
Delia Warmington, 49, of Southbourne Road, said: "You could see the flames at the back right up to the roof.
"The flames were really huge."
It not thought that anyone was inside at the time of the fire. Firefighters on the scene said that nobody had been injured.
It is thought that the property is unoccupied and in a state of disrepair.
Craig Baker, deputy area commander for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Around 5.30pm two fire engines were called to an address on Southbourne Road.
"When they arrived they found an empty property, which was well alight, particularly at the rear.
"The fire was rapidly developing and spreading throughout the property.
"Initially they tackled the fire from the outside of the building and then required assistance.
"Two further crews and an aerial ladder attended. They fought the fire and put it out and are now damping down."
He said firefighters used compressed foam, hoses and six wore breathing apparatus.
The spokesman said that 25 per cent of the property had been damaged by fire, with all of it suffering smoke damage.
Dorset Police were on scene to provide traffic control and motorists were asked to avoid the area.
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