RESIDENTS could have been forgiven for thinking a major incident was going on on their doorstep when four fire engines turned up to tackle a blaze at a block of flats.
But thankfully, the “blaze” was a controlled exercise by Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, at Mansell Crescent, in Peterlee.
It was part of training for fire scene investigation foundation degree students, from the County Durham and Darlington, Essex and South Wales fire and rescue services, who will return to the scene next week to study the aftermath.
The street was cordoned off while firefighters from Peterlee and Durham took part in the initiative and crowds of neighbours gathered to watch the ‘drama’ unfolding.
The empty flats are part of a scheduled program of demolition and East Durham Homes and Durham County Council kindly allowed the fire service, together with Teesside University, to use the building.
Lee Aspery, fire investigation manager with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said real-life scenarios were reconstructed at the flats, including a petrol bomb being thrown through the window of an elderly man’s home and an elderly woman going to sleep with electric heaters too close to her bed.
But in the exercises, the “petrol bomb” was carefully placed in the room and fires were lit using tapers.
Mr Aspery said: “Everything went absolutely well.
“We planned on two days of exercises, but the weather has otherwise been with us so we only had to do the one day. “The local population played along with us and allowed us to close the road.”