Derelict Sandhill Park mansion house gutted by fire

image captionNo-one was thought to be in the building when the fire started

Firefighters are tackling a big fire at a derelict mansion house in Somerset.

Emergency services were called to Sandhill Park, Bishops Lydeard, in the early hours.

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said six crews and three hydraulic platforms were being used to tackle the fire.

The blaze started on the first floor and spread to the remainder of the building including the roof space. The cause is not yet known.

"Thankfully there are no reports of any casualties," the fire service spokesman said.

"A building inspector is in attendance, and asbestos is involved in the incident.

"We expect to be here for some time and an investigation into the cause will start once it's safe to do so," he added.

image captionAt one point a hose split as firefighters tackled the blaze

Eyewitness Emily Rose-Gale, who lives nearby, told BBC News she was woken by the arriving emergency services.

"It's such a shame that such a beautiful building has been gutted by a huge fire - it's a well-known landmark but it has been derelict for a long time.

"The mansion is not on the main road and there are no fire hydrants as we're in the middle of nowhere so firefighters are using a massive hose to get water from a nearby pond.

"I don't think that it could have been started by accident either given that there's no electricity in the manor, or anything near that could have potentially caused such a fire," she added.

BBC reporter Clinton Rogers, who is at the scene, said one of the difficulties firefighters faced was a lack of water.

"The fire started in one of the single-storey wings about 3.30am and because they didn't have enough water to fight it - it spread from there into the main building and set fire to the roof."

He added: "They've had to run hoses a mile-and-a-half long to a pond at Cedar Falls health farm to get water.

"Because the building is unsafe inside they can only fight the fire from the outside.

"It looks like they are going to be here for many hours yet," he said.

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