Theme park evacuated in blaze drama

By Jenni DixonMORE than 1,500 parents and children were forced to leave a theme park after a cylinder containing a dangerous gas caught fire.Firefighters were sent to Pleasurewood Hills Leisure Park, near Lowestoft, after staff discovered a container of acetylene burning in a maintenance shed shortly after 1pm yesterday.

By Jenni Dixon

MORE than 1,500 parents and children were forced to leave a theme park after a cylinder containing a dangerous gas caught fire.

Firefighters were sent to Pleasurewood Hills Leisure Park, near Lowestoft, after staff discovered a container of acetylene burning in a maintenance shed shortly after 1pm yesterday.

Although the building was not near any public areas, staff decided to evacuate the entire theme park and nearby woods, which was busy on the last day of the school summer holidays.


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Fire crews imposed a 200-metre exclusion around the shed as a 24-hour operation began to douse the cylinder with water until it is cool enough to be taken away and disposed of.

They used water from the theme park's log flume and fantasy boat rides to help the dousing operation. It is not known how the container caught fire.

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Suffolk police were also called to assist firefighters in putting the 24-hour exclusion zone in place and closing part of Corton Road.

Firefighters will remain at Pleasurewood Hills dousing the cylinder until 1pm today and theme park managers said they did not think it would be open until tomorrow.

Leading firefighter Peter Gray, from Normanshurst Fire Station in Lowestoft, said: “The cylinder is like a bomb - it could blow up at anytime and we have to cool it down for 24 hours before it is taken away.”

Ivan Williams, operations manager at Pleasurewood Hills, added last night: “It's very disappointing and I doubt we will be able to open the park tomorrow as the cylinder has to stay until 1pm.”

Disappointed parents and children who were forced to leave the park yesterday have been given full refunds of tickets for a return visit.

Pleasurewood Hills, which opened in 1983 and attracted 250,000 visitors last year for a £3.2million turnover, was recently sold to French operators, Grevin and Cie for an undisclosed sum.

jenni.dixon@eadt.co.uk

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