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Investigation into Pinebanks fire continues

PUBLISHED: 07:48 27 July 2014 | UPDATED: 07:48 27 July 2014

Fire fighters at Pinebanks tackling the blaze which broke out in the early hours. Photo: Bill Smith

Fire fighters at Pinebanks tackling the blaze which broke out in the early hours. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

“Complex” investigations are continuing into the cause of a fire that devastated a former sports and social club.

More than 60 firefighters battled the blaze at Pinebanks in Thorpe St Andrew in the early hours of July 17.

Nine days later fire investigators are still sifting for clues, with the probe set to continue next week and with no likely time estimate given.

A spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “A fire of this size can mean that investigations are complex and can take some time.”

Ocubis Ltd, development managers for site owner Berliet Ltd, was not available for comment yesterday.

The site, between Yarmouth Road, School Lane and White Farm Lane, is surrounded by temporary security fencing, with one sign warning “danger – demolition in progress”.

Nobody could be seen working on site yesterday afternoon.

Last week a spokesman for the development managers said it was likely that there would be “some controlled demolition on the advice of the local authority building control and fire brigade”.

Neighbours yesterday said they were not aware of any activity at the site this week.

Residents have called for developers to renovate the site, where an illegal rave took place last November.

Last week’s fire destroyed most of the original part of the Victorian villa and at its height 66 firefighters battled to keep it from spreading to other parts of the building.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service sent crews from across Norfolk after the alarm was first raised at 1.26am, and they remained on scene for more than 20 hours.

There has been extensive damage to the old part of the Pinebanks building, but about 70pc of the venue was saved.

Pinebanks was formerly a Norwich Union sports centre, where dozens of sports clubs were based.

It closed its doors in 2008 and 
has been empty since then.

In December 2009 it emerged that Jersey-based Berliet Ltd had purchased the site from Norwich Union, but the company said at the time it had no firm plans and the site might not be developed for five years.

A sign behind temporary fencing said the site was private property and that it was used by police for training purposes.

Do you have a story? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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