Major field fire near M11 spread to railway station building
- Credit: Gerard Clinton
Firefighters from Essex and Cambridgeshire tackled a major field fire which brought trains to a halt between London and Cambridge.
More than 15 firefighting units from across two counties tackled the blaze, which affected 400 acres of field next to the M11 at Great Chesterford, near Saffron Walden, on Sunday, July 17.
Greater Anglia trains through London, Essex and Cambridgeshire were stopped, and the blaze spread to the roof of a disused building at Great Chesterford railway station.
The fire broke out at around 4.04pm and was extinguished by 9.30pm.
Dave Bond, an Essex County Fire and Rescue station manager, said: "It was a fast-moving fire due to the weather conditions and crews worked really hard to protect the M11 and nearby houses.
"Unfortunately, embers set fire to the roof space of an unused two-storey building at Great Chesterford train station.
"The roof sustained significant damage but crews prevented further damage to the building.
"I'd like to pay tribute to our control officers who have been extraordinarily busy dealing with calls and managing resources and to our crews, many who have gone from one arduous incident to the next."
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Crews from Saffron Walden, Stansted, Newport, Thaxted, Harlow and Epping were called to the blaze, along with three crews from Linton, Sawston and Cottenham in Cambridgeshire.
An Aerial Ladder Platform was called in from Southend-on-Sea, some 44 miles away from the scene, along with an off-road vehicle from Chelmsford.
Some trains were cancelled on the adjacent railway line into Sunday evening.
On Monday morning, a Greater Anglia spokesperson said: "Following a fire near Great Chesterford station, the line is open.
"But because the station has wooden beams beneath the platforms supporting the structure, trains were not be able to call at Great Chesterford.
"A structural engineer has attended the site this morning to assess the wooden beams and has ruled it safe for the public."
The station was able to reopen before 9am.
The blaze broke out amid Met Office warnings for severe or "extreme" heat.
On Sunday, the Met Office observations included highs of more than 30C throughout the East of England.
Heathrow Airport near London received 13.2 hours of sunlight, and the highest temperature of the day was recorded at Hawarden in Wales, where the mercury hit 33C.
Several field fires have been recorded near Great Chesterford throughout the heatwave.
Between July 13 and July 14, crews in Essex were called to three separate field fires near Ongar in the Epping Forest district.
On the same day as the Great Chesterford blaze, three acres of fields and 80 metres of hedgerow caught fire at 12.33pm near Braintree. Crews from Halstead and Thaxted extinguished the blaze by 1.06pm.
Five acres of field were also alight in Bentfield Bower, Stansted by 2.54pm. Crews from Stansted, Newport and Saffron Walden brought the blaze under control by 5.27pm.