Arson suspected in Cromer former hospital fire
A fire in a derelict hospital at Cromer is believed to be work of young arsonists.
Nearly 30 firefighters and five fire engines were called to the former Fletcher Hospital on Roughton Road at 5.30pm last night.
The fire was limited to a former food preparation room at the Victorian building which has been empty for more than a decade, but smoke damage spread into other rooms including the first floor.
Group manager Greg Preston, who was in charge of the fire fighting operation, said the number of engines and officers was due to reports that smoke was coming through the roof, and the danger it could spread quickly.
It was quickly put out and an initial search of the building had not found anyone inside, but it took longer to ventilate the smoke and do a more detailed check to make sure.
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The fire began in rubbish and wood and was 'deliberate ignition', he added. Crews from Cromer, Mundesley, Sheringham and a Norwich aerial platform were used.
The building has recently been in the news after its owner Shamin Sheik reapplied for permission to convert the site to four houses and 21 flats. It was built in 1893 as a convalescent home for patients from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and became a care home for the elderly before it was closed and bought for development in 1995 with the proposal to build 15 flats.
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It has in the past been listed by the Victorian Society among its top 10 most endangered buildings, and has previously been prey to fly tippers and arsonists.
Police said two teenagers wearing dark clothing were seen running away from the back of the building. Anyone with information should contact officers on 0845 456 4567.