UPDATE: Electrical fault likely cause of Brixham shop blaze
FIREFIGHTERS believe an electrical fault was the cause of the fire which caused massive damage to shops and flats in the centre of Brixham.
A spokesman for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said that the blaze was believed to have started in the ground floor of the Harbour News shop area in Fore Street.
The ground, first and second floor and roof space were severely damaged by fire.
The spokesman said: "The cause has been confirmed as accidental, believed to be an electrical fault."
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Crews worked throughout Friday night and Saturday, and appliances from Totnes, Torquay, Brixham and the aerial ladder platform from Torquay were at the scene.
Fire teams from all over Devon tackled the blaze during the course of Friday night.
The alarm was raised around 7.45pm and the police helicopter hovered over the scene.
There were 15 fire engines at the scene by 11pm from stations all over Devon.
The aerial platform was also sent to the scene.
Witnesses said flames could still be seen inside the building at 11pm.
One witness said: "It looked as if the whole town was filled with smoke."
Video by Guy Cunningham
The Fire Service confirmed they had been called to reports of smoke coming from the first and second floors of the three-storey building.
By 10.10pm they said they had the fire surrounded, and there was no longer a danger of it spreading to adjoining buildings.
Relief crews were being requested just after midnight.
At 12.45am firefighters reported that the fire had been confined to hot spots on all floors.
Crews were damping down and reliefs being organised.
By 4am they were still damping down, and three appliances were still at the scene.
Relief fire crews involved in the incident came from Ivybridge, Middlemoor, Credition, Honiton, Ashburton, Totnes and Torquay.
Video by Guy Cunningham
The police helicopter crew was called to the scene of the fire at 8.05pm.
On their blog the helicopter crew wrote: "Ordinarily the police helicopter doesn’t attend such incidents unless there is a fear the fire may spread, creating a larger incident, or there is a threat to the public.
"In this case it was clear the fire was in a very confined area of the small town with very limited access and there was the potential for the fire move to adjacent properties.
"The helicopter dropped one crew member off at Berry Head with a downlink receiver. The downlink is a laptop type device which displays a live video stream sent from the helicopter.
"Fire commanders were able to use the thermal imaging on the aircraft, hovering above, which clearly showed seats of fire not previously seen and formulate plans to tackle them."
Twitter users in the port were expressing their concern for those involved in the blaze.
taylorbonnd12 wrote: "Fires are really scary.
"Feel so sorry for the little shop and family in Brixham."
There were reports that the fire involved Harbour News newsagents in Fore Street with a supermarket and coffee shop also damaged.
There were no reports of casualties.
Witness LBMarketing posted on this website: "I was opposite the Harbour News at 8pm while the other half was in the Co-op.
"Smoke started to come out of the newsagents.
"Within ten minutes there was one fire engine on the scene, with another arriving a few minutes later.
"I witnessed several explosions coming from the newagents shortly after.
"Our hearts go out to the affected people. Presumably they will be damping down for a few hours.”
Reader woodyguthrie added: "“The important thing is all are safe. An excellent job by all the emergency services who deserve a big vote of thanks."
And JCapp123 said: "My heart goes out to the family, hopefully they are able to rebuild the business as it will be sorely missed. The fire crews have done an amazing job in a particularly tricky location, olde Brixham wasn't exactly designed with fire safety in mind,"
Read their comments in full below.