Firefighters say quick-thinking duo ‘probably saved building’ by tackling blaze

Lanes for Drains workers Dan Edwards and Andy Heath, who tackled the rubbish-bag fire outside Hitchi

Lanes for Drains workers Dan Edwards and Andy Heath, who tackled the rubbish-bag fire outside Hitchin Starbucks. Picture: Dan Edwards - Credit: Archant

Quick-thinking drain workers from Huntingdonshire averted disaster when they tackled a rubbish-bag fire that could have seriously damaged a town centre.

The scene after the fire outside Starbucks in Hitchin's Market Place. Picture: Hitchin Fire Station

The scene after the fire outside Starbucks in Hitchin's Market Place. Picture: Hitchin Fire Station - Credit: Archant

Dan Edwards and Andy Heath noticed the fire in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, and called 999 – then put out the blaze themselves with their high-pressure water hose.

Dan and Andy, who work for Lanes for Drains out of the firm’s St Neots depot, were called out by Anglian Water in the early hours of Monday to clear a blockage near the RSPCA shop in Hitchin’s Churchyard.

Shortly before 1am, while waiting for a tanker to help with the job, they decided to get some water and food. While driving, they noticed the pile of bags on fire outside Starbucks, on the corner of Market Place.

Dan said: “I jumped out and grabbed the hose, while Andy worked the controls on the lorry for the high-pressure water.

The scene after the fire outside Starbucks in Hitchin's Market Place. Picture: Hitchin Fire Station

The scene after the fire outside Starbucks in Hitchin's Market Place. Picture: Hitchin Fire Station - Credit: Archant


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“We put the fire out. Five minutes later the fire service showed up and told us we probably saved the building, as the woodwork was dry.

“We stayed to give a statement, then went back to work.”

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Dan and Andy, from St Neots and St Ives respectively, work across East Anglia.

And modest Dan insisted: “We only did what any other people would have done.

“It’s not every day you get to change an outcome like that by sheer luck.”

Hitchin Fire Station watch commander Mark Burgess said Dan and Andy had done “an outstanding job”.

He said: “They knocked the fire down before we got there. If the fire had taken hold of the building it could have been a lot more severe.”

The fire caused significant damage to the Starbucks window, as well as nearby guttering and bird-spikes.

Firefighters have indicated that the poor locating of the rubbish had contributed to the blaze, and said crews would be giving advice to both Starbucks and nearby Pizza Express – which also had rubbish piled up outside.

Mark said: “We are working with the town centre manager, the BID team and staff from local shops to ensure this risk is removed.”

Officers are investigating the fire as arson. Anyone with information should call Herts police on 101, quoting crime reference 41/17928/18.

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