Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 13:46 UK

Firefighters tackle church blaze

Fire picture courtesy of Jon Knight
The church has lain empty for the past four years

Firefighters have tackled a blaze at a historic landmark in the centre of a Nottinghamshire town.

Crews were called to the fire at St Alban's Church in London Road, Retford, at about 1740 BST on Thursday.

A spokeswoman from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue said crews from Worksop, Doncaster and Mansfield were called to the former church.

London Road was closed in both directions while the structure of the building was made safe.

Eyewitnesses said the church - which has not been used for about four years - was well alight for several hours.

Thank God there was nobody inside
Eyewitness Shirley Edson

One eyewitness, Shirley Edson, said the roof of the church collapsed in the blaze.

"It's a sorry sight to see really... there was this roaring sound and it just all crashed in," she said.

"It's quite dramatic, you just think, 'thank God there was nobody inside'."

Eighteen elderly people from The Hollies Care Home in Retford were evacuated on Thursday night after fears the church fire would cause the building to collapse onto their home.

Sixteen of them are now at other residential homes, while two people were taken to a nursing home.

Councillor Alan Rhodes, cabinet member for adult services and health, said: "All the residents seem to be doing well and we are hoping that they will be able to return to The Hollies early next week."

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