A 'BIG' fire tore through a building in Pontypool in the early hours of this morning.
The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called to Commercial Street, Pontypool, at 1.15am this morning where a three story building, which was used as both apartments and a commercial shop was on fire.
One man was rescued by fire crews after being ‘overcome by smoke.’
The ground floor of the 80 meter by 20 meter building is said to be 50 percent damaged by the fire and 50 percent damaged by smoke.
Fire crews from New Inn; Cwmbran; Abersychan; Cardiff; Abercarn and Maindee, used one breathing apparatus; one hose reel jet; one thermal imaging camera and a main jet to tackle the fire.
A fire service spokesman confirmed that it was ‘quite a big fire’ and said that crews are still on the scene attempting to ‘dampen down’ the fire.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
The commercial shop which was gutted belonged to St David's Foundation Hospice Care.
Pontypool councillor Giles Davies has tweeted: "So sad for St David's, the residents of the flats and for Pontypool. Another great building badly damaged."
Our reporter Hayley Mills is at the scene.
She says firefighters are still there, where slight smoke can still be seen coming from the top of the building. She says all the flames have been extinguished though.
Torfaen council says the Civic Centre car park is not accessible due to the fire. Workers are asked to use othe parking facilities.
Hanbury Road is said to be closed in both directions, causing disruption for traffic, including buses, travelling into the town centre.
Reports are that is was an elderly gentleman who was rescued by the fire service.
The windows have been smashed outwards at the charity shop and burnt stock can be seen at the front of the building.
Fire service says it is going to start cutting through floors in the shop and Commercial Street will remain closed for most of today.
Melin Homes have issued this statement:
“The fire and rescue service notified us of the fire in the early hours of this morning, and members of staff attended to offer help and support to our residents. Thankfully, no-one was seriously injured. One resident was taken to hospital but we are informed is recovering well. Five residents are with family or friends, and another five residents were brought back to our offices whilst we secured temporary accommodation. Arrangements will be made to secure longer term accommodation for all of the residents whilst re-building and repair work takes place.
The priority for us is the health and well-being of our residents, and we will be doing all we can to support them at this very difficult time.
We are also very grateful for the professionalism and skill of the fire and rescue service, and we will be working with them as they carry out their investigation into the cause of the fire”.
WATCH a video from the scene filmed by Argus reader Trevor Shankland on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152960779234863&set=vb.40526249862&type=2&theater
Our reporter, Hayley Mills, says most shops are accessible by foot in Pontypool but Lloyds Bank remains closed.
Resident Trevor Shanklin, 62, said at 9.15am the building relit and black smoke was seen from the top floor windows. Fire men rushed in with hoses.
He added: "It is an original building it would be a shame if it was lost due to the fire."
Cafe, Bread of Heaven, opened its doors to those evacuated from flats at 1am until they found alternative accomodation.
A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "At 1.15am today, Friday August 15, we were called to reports of a fire at an address in Hanbury Road in Pontypool. A paramedic in a rapid response car and a crew in an emergency ambulance attended, and one person was taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital."
Torfaen council has said Hanbury Road remains closed. "We’re just waiting for the fire service to contact us," a spokeswoman added.