07 Aug 2012
Firefighters spent four hours struggling to save an historic Chester church from the flames.
The fire started at St Francis’ Church in Cuppin Street after smouldering incense stones were deposited in a plastic bin after an evening service.
The overheating stones sparked a blaze which destroyed a small back room and left a section of the roof seriously damaged.
Police closed the road as 18 firefighters were called to the scene.
The fire service used hose jets and breathing apparatus to extinguish the fire, climbing the stairs of the neighbouring homeless shelter, Roodee House, to get a more comprehensive view, according to the Chester Chronicle.
“The fire was well alight, the whole of the back area was full of black smoke,” said Chester Green Watch manager Richard Gerrard.
“The flames got into the roof and we had to rip all of the roof space out to stop it spreading through the rest of the building.”
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires churches and other places of worship in England and Wales to carry out a comprehensive fire risk assessment, owing to the amount of flammable materials they contain.
Alongside obvious fire hazards such as incense stones, candles and oil burners, churches also frequently contain things like cleaning chemicals and flower arrangements which are highly combustible.
Copyright Press Association 2012