Ipswich church destroyed in fire

A derelict listed building in the centre of Ipswich has been completely destroyed by fire.

Fifty firefighters tackled the blaze that broke out at St Michael's Church on Upper Orwell Street just before 2200 GMT on Monday.

Upper Orwell Street and several adjacent roads were closed.

The church had been closed for 10 years and in 2010 was bought by a Muslim charity that planned to convert it into a community centre.

Local Muslims have been left devastated by the incident as the building was not insured.

Chief executive of the Muslim education charity JIMAS, Manwar Ali, said a lot of money had already been donated for the conversion project.

Police have closed off the surrounding area and said Upper Orwell Street would be shut until further notice.

The Rev Canon Paul Daltry, minister of church and community engagement within St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: "I feel great sadness and regret at this fire in a former Church of England church, particularly because the JIMAS organisation through Manwar Ali have been seeking to bring it back into life.

"Manwar and JIMAS have my deepest sympathy for what they have lost. Their community approach was something that I support and I hope that the dreams for the site may in time be realised."

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