Cupola blaze was sparked by fire blanket accident

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THE blaze that ripped through Cupola House started after a cook accidentally misjudged the use of a safety blanket, according to a fire chief.

John Wilcock, group commander for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the young cook had inadvertently fanned flames into the Strada restaurant’s ventilation system when using a fire blanket, spreading them on to the building’s upper floors.

Cdr Wilcock was duty officer when the fire began in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, at around 8.50pm on June 16.

Speaking at a meeting of the Bury Society on Saturday, he said: “The young cook was frying a salmon steak in the cellar when he noticed the flame was too high.

“He used a fire blanket, but when it turned black he thought it was on fire and removed it.

“The flame then shot up the lazy waiter and travelled to the ground floor.”

He said firefighters believed it was contained to the cellar, only for it to spread to the second floor without them knowing.

Crews fought the blaze through the night, leaving them ‘shattered’, according to Cdr Wilcock.

The meeting also heard from Group Commander Pat Dacey, who said the bill for the blaze came to £231,470.

He said the figure came from 585 appliance hours at a cost of £395 per hour.

He added: “We charge each householder a pound a week – I think we are pretty good value for money.”

He also praised the performance of the Multistar appliance, which was used for the first time in a town centre.

He said a traditional turntable ladder would not have been as effective at tackling the fire.

An investigation into the fire was finalised last week.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “We have concluded that the fire at Cupola House, Bury St Edmunds, started accidentally in the basement kitchen of the building and then spread to the rest of the building initially via the kitchen ventilation system.”