Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Library Up in Flames; Blaze Destroys Library

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Library Up in Flames; Blaze Destroys Library

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW PAIN

A COMMUNITY has been left devastated after a major blaze at a former library.

Investigations were being carried out today to find out the cause of the fire which ripped through the ex-Thorntree Library building on Beresford Crescent. The firefighter leading the operation yesterday said the building was "more or less destroyed" after the blaze broke out at 8.40pm. People in Thorntree said "tears were shed" at the loss of the building, which although recently closed and sold due to council cuts, had been used by families on the Middlesbrough estate for generations. Flames could be seen across Teesside and 35 firefighters from stations across the area helped douse the blaze. Police attended to control crowds, as did the ambulance service after reports that children had been seen in the vicinity. However, searches were carried out and no youngsters were found and no one was injured in the blaze.

Andy Witham, station manager at Middlesbrough Fire Station and incident commander for the blaze, said: "It was a severe fire leaving three quarters of the building more or less destroyed. We had flames 40ft in the air from the roof space. "The cause is unknown at present and investigations will commence today in daylight hours." Six fire appliances, an emergency tender, an incident command unit and a hydraulic platform brought the incident under control. The fire brigade say the fire was out just after 10pm. Cleveland Police are investigating the incident to see if it was an arson attack. Thorntree Library shut last year as part of due to Middlesbrough Council's cuts, with its facilities moved to Thorntree Youth and Community Centre on Birkhall Road. The building was set for demolition by the Vela Group which has a PS7m "extra care" housing development of 60 apartments with 23 bungalows planned for the site. Thorntree residents said the building being burned to the ground felt symbolic. Joanne Laws, 44, who has recently left her work as a carer due to health reasons, said:"We have shed tears over this. …

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