JUST one fire crew remains in Crediton after five homes were destroyed and residents left homeless following the massive fire that ripped through Mill Street and Buller Square yesterday.

The remaining fire crew is continuing to damp down at the scene and most of the surrounding roads have now been re-opened.

Investigations into the cause of the fire are still ongoing, but a spokesman for the fire service said: “Early indications are that this was an accidental fire, starting in the chimney of one of the properties and spreading to the thatch.”

He added: The fire service reminds residents that chimneys and flues need to be clean and well maintained to allow the free passage of dangerous combustion gasses, as well as being free of any blockages like bird nests and cobwebs.

“Regular cleaning will remove soot and help prevent dangerous chimney fires occurring.”

More than 100 firefighters tackled the fire yesterday after five properties in Mill Street and Buller Square caught fire at 1pm.

People have been left homeless and are now believed to be staying with family and friends, according to Mid Devon Council.

Mid Devon Council has released the following statement in connection with the fire:

Staff at the District Council have been assisting both on site and behind the scenes along with colleagues in the emergency services to help those whose homes were damaged by the fire at Crediton.

Our sympathies go to the families involved. Dangerous Structures We were requested to attend the incident by Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service as they were concerned about the structural condition of the buildings and any threat the buildings posed to the firefighters attending the incident.

Our team dealing with building regulations and dangerous structures visited the site and made an initial assessment of the structures (principally the chimneys).

They concluded that at that time, the buildings were stable and should not pose a risk to the firefighters attacking the fire. As the buildings are Grade-II listed as dangerous structures, our involvement will be limited and we are unlikely to carry out any works other than emergency and securing the site.

Air quality monitoring

We were able to provide advice on the impact of the fire plume of smoke. Our real-time monitoring station nearby in Exeter Road was accessed remotely from Phoenix House obtaining live information. Pollution readings peaked mid-afternoon with concentrations up to four times the normal experienced, corresponding to a ‘High’ pollution banding.

Nonetheless, levels were not serious enough to warrant advice of a wider evacuation and it was sufficient for those in the immediate area to stay indoors keeping windows closed – we believe this was the advice issued anyway by the blue-light services attending except of course to whose homes were directly involved in the blaze.

Housing Needs – Homeless

We weren’t called upon to provide emergency accommodation for families involved on Friday evening. We are in contact with the emergency services and if that situation changes, we will be on call to respond as necessary. Our Housing Needs and Homeless officer will be attending at the District Council’s Crediton office on Monday at 2pm to give housing advice to families involved. At times of difficulty such as this, support and succour provided by family and friends is of utmost importance. However, families whose homes have been damaged are encouraged to contact staff at the Council if they should need assistance in the coming days.

Our emergency out of hours service will be provided on our main switchboard – 01884 255255