FIREFIGHTERS battled to save an historic Chester church as flames ripped through the roof after smouldering incense stones caught fire.
At just before 10pm on Monday (July 30) emergency services were called to St Francis’ Church in Cuppin Street, Chester after smoke was seen billowing from the roof.
Firefighters from Chester fire station battled to put out the flames which spread through a back room in the church causing dark smoke to pour through the building.
Police closed the road as 18 firefighters used hose jets and breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze, climbing the stairs in the neighbouring homeless shelter, Roodee House, to get a better idea of the scale of the fire.
Firefighters battled for four hours to extinguish the fire which is thought to have destroyed the small back room and to have substantially damaged a section of the roof.
Chester green watch manager, firefighter Richard Garvey, said the friars living in the rectory next door noticed the flames and when fire crews arrived smoke and flames were billowing from the roof of the church.
“The fire was well alight. The whole of the back area was full of black smoke,” said Firefighter Garvey.
“The flames got into the roof and we had to rip all of the roof space out to stop it spreading through the rest of the building.”
Four fire engines from Chester and one from Ellesmere Port fire station left the scene of the fire at just after 6am after carrying out safety inspections at the church.
It is thought the fire was caused by incense stones from the evening’s service, which had been placed in a plastic bin in the back room, before overheating and setting the bin alight. No one was hurt in the blaze.