Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 09:17 UK

Residents moved after chapel fire


Wales _ fire

Fire crews worked through the night to deal with a blaze in a disused landmark chapel in Aberystwyth.

A dozen residents were moved from homes backing onto the Tabernacle in Mill Street as a precaution on Friday.

The Victorian building, which has been empty for more than five years, was damaged over four floors by the fire and remains unstable, police said.

An aerial platform was used to help six fire crews bring the fire under control. It broke out about 2355 BST.

Dyfed-Powys Police said eight homes in Powell Street were among those evacuated.

Residents living next door to the chapel have not been allowed to return as the building is unstable.

Firefighters at the scene
There was smoke and blue flashing lights everywhere
Resident Geoffrey Ralphs

Mill Street, Powell Street and Bridge Street were closed and are likely to remain so for the next few hours.

Geoffrey Ralphs lives near the chapel, but he was not evacuated by the emergency services.

"There was smoke and blue flashing lights everywhere," said Mr Ralphs.

"Fortunately we were not evacuated, but several homes at the rear of the chapel in streets like Powell Street were.

"The road was also closed soon after the fire started."

Chris Fitzpatrick also witnessed the fire service fighting the blaze. He was not evacuated from his home either.

He said: "I noticed the fire at about 1am when I saw spotted the reflections of blue flashing lights.

"There must have been about five fire engines here and sparks and flames were going through the roof of the chapel.

"The roof was ablaze and there was a lot of smoke."

The chapel after the fire
The chapel was thought to have been one of the largest in the town

Mid and West Wales Fire Service said they still have some firefighters at the scene.

The fire was brought under control by 0210 BST and the building is being made secure.

Town councillor Trevor Shaftoe thanked the emergency services for the way they managed to find alternative accommodation for the residents.

"Three of them had to be put up in B&B accommodation and the remainder with relatives and friends," he said.

"It's a shame what's happened to the building, which will be a loss to the town but I understand the walls are structurally sound."

The Calvinistic chapel dates from 1880, and was the fourth building on the site as congregations expanded with the methodist revival.

It closed in November 2002 because of the cost of the building's upkeep to the congregation of 70.

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