AROUND 24 fire fighters were called to the derelict Ilfracombe bus station building last night (Thursday) after flames were seen shooting through the roof amid clouds of black smoke. Initially it was feared children were inside and the burning asbestos ro

AROUND 24 fire fighters were called to the derelict Ilfracombe bus station building last night (Thursday) after flames were seen shooting through the roof amid clouds of black smoke.

Initially it was feared children were inside and the burning asbestos roofing added an extra risk for fire fighters and those nearby.

When the first crew from Ilfracombe arrived at teatime, Watch Manager Steve Davey immediately called for a total of four pump appliances due to the extent of the blaze.

They cordoned off the area and closed the road, fighting the flames with covering jets and ground monitors, but when a nearby resident said there might possibly be children in the building after he had seen some earlier, four fire fighters donned breathing apparatus and went in to search.

"They discovered an office style portable building that was well alight inside the derelict garage," said Watch Manager Davey.

"This was soon quenched, but one of the main risks was the asbestos involved and the four who went in were decontaminated when they left the building."

No children were found inside but he issued a safety message on the hazards of playing inside such structures.

"There is danger to children entering these types of premises, especially from the asbestos roofing, but there were also two garage service pits they could easily have fallen into."

The cause of the fire is being investigated, but it is thought arson is suspected.