Homes evacuated as crews tackle blaze at hospital building
Residents near the Weybridge Health Centre in Surrey were given refuge in a nearby church.
Scores of people have been evacuated from their homes in the middle of the night after a fire tore through a hospital building.
Residents near the Weybridge Health Centre in Surrey were given refuge inside St James’ Parish Church after being told to leave their homes for safety reasons.
Nearly a dozen fire crews are tackling the blaze at the building, a multi-purpose medical centre.
@SurreyFRS is in attendance at Weybridge Community Hospital dealing with a large fire. Fire crews will remain in attendance for some time— Surrey Fire & Rescue (@SurreyFRS) July 12, 2017
Currently 8 Pumps, 2 Aerial Ladder Platforms and 3 Water Carriers at Weybridge Community Hospitals. Please avoid the area if possible— Surrey Fire & Rescue (@SurreyFRS) July 12, 2017
The blaze, which witnesses said took hold “extremely quickly”, started at around 11.45pm on Tuesday – several hours after the building closed for the day.
Matt Leisegang, who was evacuated from his home around 100 metres from the blaze, said he heard a “loud bang” and saw the top floor of the building “engulfed”.
The 28-year-old told the Press Association: “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.”
The 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.”
A Surrey Police statement confirmed there were no injuries. It added: “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.”