Witnesses reported hearing a “loud bang” at Weybridge Community Hospital, in Surrey, before the building was engulfed in flames.
Residents near the three-storey medical centre, which houses a walk-in centre that is only open during the daytime, were given refuge inside St James’ Parish Church after being told to leave their homes for safety reasons.
Nearly a dozen fire crews were called to tackle the blaze late on Tuesday July 11. Two aerial ladder platforms were used to fight the flames from above.
The blaze, which witnesses said took hold “extremely quickly”, started at around 11.45pm – several hours after the building closed for the day.
No one was injured. An investigation is under way to try to establish the cause of the fire.
Matt Leisegang, who was evacuated from his home around 300ft from the blaze, said he heard a “loud bang” and saw the top floor of the building “engulfed”.
The 28-year-old said: “It was about 11.45pm when my wife woke me up and said there was a fire at the hospital.
“We heard people shouting outside and went to look through the window. We saw what was happening and ran down to see if we could help.
“That’s when I saw the left side of the roof was in flames already. Within about 15 minutes, the whole of the roof was alight.
“The building is only three storeys, and the top floor was completely engulfed in flames within a short time – that was the remarkable thing, how quickly the fire spread.
“Within about 40 minutes of the fire, the whole of the top floor was gone. I could only see flames.”
Mr Leisegang, a personal chef, added: “We were asked by the emergency services to move back – there was a loud bang, an explosion from the gas canisters.
“The firefighters have been brilliant, and I said to my wife that we should make some tea and sandwiches for them but we were told to evacuate before we could do anything.
“Everyone seems to be safe. There are about 30 people in the church, there were some children earlier but they have been sent to stay with relatives.
“We’re just thankful nobody seems to have been hurt.”
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said crews would be in place “for some time”.
Surrey Police confirmed there were no injuries.
The force said in a statement: “A large number of residents have been evacuated. Roads around the building, including Weybridge High Street, have been closed and are likely to remain so for some time.
“A large number of resources from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are continuing to tackle the blaze, which is now under control.
“An investigation is under way to establish the cause of the fire which remains unknown at this time.”
Original Source: The Telegraph
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