Fire wrecks town social club
By Juliette MaxamA FIRE has badly damaged a social club that was booked for functions, including a wedding, until the end of the year.Flames swept through the Labour Club, in Collingwood Road, Witham, in the early hours of yesterday and it took five fire crews more than two hours to bring the blaze under control.
By Juliette Maxam
A FIRE has badly damaged a social club that was booked for functions, including a wedding, until the end of the year.
Flames swept through the Labour Club, in Collingwood Road, Witham, in the early hours of yesterday and it took five fire crews more than two hours to bring the blaze under control.
The club's function hall was badly damaged, but former MP Alan Hurst's office and the Braintree Labour Party constituency office appeared to have been left intact.
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The function hall has been booked for weddings, birthday and anniversary parties until December and is used regularly throughout the week by community groups, including religious associations on Sundays.
Officers from Braintree Constituency Labour Party gathered outside the building yesterday morning to survey the wreckage.
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Tony Bennett, party chairman, said: "We're looking at the building with tears in our eyes. It's been a Witham landmark for quite some time. We don't intend to let it go.
"The damage is very, very severe. Our main concern initially is for people who have booked the hall. We have to let them know as soon as possible."
He added there was at least one wedding reception booked in the hall over the summer. "Our biggest relief is it's just a building and nobody was hurt," said Mr Bennett.
"From what I hear from the fire service it spread very quickly. It's an inconvenience. It would have been more of a disaster had it happened during the election."
Fire crews went to the scene at 4am yesterday and they included engines from Witham, Chelmsford and Great Baddow, the Chelmsford aerial ladder platform truck, a rescue tender from Colchester and a control unit and support unit from Brentwood.
Two crews remained at the scene throughout yesterday damping down. An investigation has been launched, but it is believed the fire was not suspicious and was probably caused by an electrical fault.
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A 999 call was made at 9.30pm on Friday reporting a fire in St Michael's Road, Braintree.
Three fire crews from Braintree and Coggeshall were sent to the blaze and they arrived to find a quarter of the first floor filled with smoke.
Fire crews searched the building, fearing people were still inside and unaccounted for. One person was rescued and the blaze – which is not being treated as suspicious – was out within an hour.