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Am dram group hit by suspicious fire

PUBLISHED: 12:02 16 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

THE chairman of an amateur dramatics group has today vowed that the show will go on after a suspicious fire destroyed much of their scenery.

P9 pic/story

By Jessica Nicholls

jessica.nicholls@ecng.co.uk

THE chairman of an amateur dramatics group has today vowed that the show will go on after a suspicious fire destroyed much of their scenery.

Flames took hold of the portable building behind the Landseer Road Methodist Church, in Ipswich, last night, close to where the Landseer Players were rehearsing their show of Cinderella in the church hall.

Fire crews are still investigating the cause of the blaze but are treating it as suspicious.

Stored in the cabin were pieces of scenery dating back over the last 20 years and possibly costing thousands of pounds to replace.

The Boys Brigade also used the building to store camping and other equipment.

Chairman of the group, Bill Last said the fire devastated the group.

He said: "We were absolutely shattered – it is a severe blow to us.

"It's a huge loss to us and also the Boys Brigade."

Mr Last told how 25 of the actors formed a human chain to rescue as much equipment as they could from the gutted building as soon as fire crews had finished damping down the blaze at around 10pm.

Thankfully some of it was protected from the blaze by two closed doors so it is hoped that a lot was only smoke damaged.

Two fire crews from the town tackled the blaze which Mr Last described as a "colossal heat".

He said: "The fire was contained within the cabin but the heat was colossal.

"There were four metal heaters on the wall which melted and so did the smoke alarm.

"Even a couple of hours later some of the stuff was too hot to pick up."

Mr Last said he was first told of the fire at around 7pm after children had alerted the house next door to the church of the blaze.

Some members of the group grabbed fire extinguishers to try and put the blaze out before fire crews got there.

Mr Last said: "They carried on until the fire brigade got there so they must have managed to save an awful lot of the equipment."

Thankfully an Ipswich firm has already come to the rescue with an alternative building for the Players to store the remainder of their equipment in.

Mr Last said: "We don't even know how much we have lost at the moment.

"It could cost us thousands of pounds to replace everything – if we ever do at all."

But the group remains strong in the face of adversity and is not letting the blaze destroy their play.

Mr Last said: "This will not stop us – whatever happens we will keep going and the show will go on."

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