Town centre store fire

Around 70 firefighters from stations across Derbyshire fought for over nine hours to put out a major blaze at a Chesterfield town centre store.

Fire broke out in the roof of Somerfield in The Pavements Precinct at 1.30pm on Wednesday and the entire shopping centre was evacuated.

Four fire crews initially attended, but with flames spreading fiercely through the roof, officers called for assistance and there were ten fire engines at the scene at the height of the blaze.

Firefighters used aerial ladders to pump water onto the roof from both sides of the building.

Chesterfield station manger Sean Mahony said: "It was a very severe fire. The critical thing from our perspective was trying to make sure The Pavements was not destroyed.

"We initially had firefighters inside the building, but it wasn't safe, so we tackled the fire from the outside. The wind certainly made it spread more quickly."

He said the walls of the store were still standing but Somerfield had been destroyed in the blaze. Firefighters prevented the flames spreading to other units.

One man who was shopping in Somerfield when fire broke out was injured by falling debris.

Steven Bannister (28), of Spital Lane, Spital, said: "The alarm was going off, I just panicked and my first instinct was to get out. I walked underneath a part of the roof that was on fire and something fell on my head."

Mr Bannister was taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and treated for superficial burns. He said he felt lucky his injuries were not worse.

As firefighters fought the flames, police officers blocked off large parts of the town centre, including the market place, Beetwell Street and the bus station. Hundreds of people gathered behind the cordons, watching in amazement as roof slates came crashing down onto the road and the flames devoured the roof.

Firefighters were at the scene until 2.30am on Thursday damping down and ensuring the scene was safe. Officers are conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire.

The Pavements remains closed today and people should expect disruptions to bus services from Beetwell Street.