Old Libanus chapel demolished after fire at Cwmbwrla, Swansea

A resident described the scenes while Station Manager Craig Thomas told of the evacuation

A former chapel building in Swansea is being demolished after it was badly damaged in a blaze early on Saturday.

An arson investigation has begun into the cause of the fire at Libanus Chapel in Carmarthen Road in Cwmbwrla.

Roads were closed in the area and four houses evacuated as a precaution after the blaze was discovered at 04:20 GMT.

At its height, 50 firefighters were at the scene. The chapel has been closed for 12 years.

The original chapel was built in 1867 but a replacement adjoining it was erected in 1906. It shut after a decline in membership.

The blaze, which spread to the roof of a neighbouring garage, had left only the skeleton of the building standing.

Motorists travelling into Swansea from the west were advised to avoid the area, with disruption expected along the main A483 Carmarthen Road for several hours.

At the height of the incident 50 firefighters fought to contain the blaze in a four-hour major operation involving 10 fire appliances.

Craig Thomas, station manager with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue, told BBC Wales reporter Gilbert John at the scene: "We got the first call just after four o'clock this morning and the first crews came along quickly, with the building well alight.

"The first two homes we evacuated as a precaution as a number of embers were falling from the building."

Altogether nine people from four terraced homes were led to safety.

One of them described their departure as leaving through "a hail of fire" with burning debris falling around them.

The fire service said conditions were made worse by gale force winds and crews had worked very hard to stop the blaze spreading.

An arson investigation team from the fire service and South Wales Police are involved in the inquiry.

Chapel fire Photo: Mid and West Wales Fire Service The blaze left just a skeleton of the building intact

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