Fire sweeps Center Parcs

A HUGE blaze was raging out of control today at the Center Parcs leisure complex in the heart of Thetford Forest.More than 70 firefighters and specialist units were at the scene - where thousands of visitors from across Britain are enjoying an Easter break in glorious sunshine.

By Matt Eley

A HUGE blaze was raging out of control today at the Center Parcs leisure complex in the heart of Thetford Forest.

Hundreds of holidaymakers were preparing to go home early after being evacuated from the heart of the holiday village.

More than 70 firefighters and specialist units were at the scene - where thousands of visitors from across Britain are enjoying an Easter break in glorious sunshine.


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Early reports from The East Anglian Ambulance Service said a major operation was under way but that had no immediate reports of any casualties.

Holidaymaker Robert Herd, 37, from Kent, was staying there with his daughters and neices.

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"I was watching television when it all started. I thought somebody had started a fire. I looked out of the window and there was a black plume of smoke.

"People were being evacuated from the swimming pool. It may be that our holiday will come to an end because we may have to be evacuated."

Holidaymaker Nicky Barker, 50, staying at Center Parcs with her family from Somerset, was just coming out of the laundrette when she saw the fire engines.

She said: "I saw the flames, they were as high as the trees. They were evacuating people from the pool and wrapping them in silver foil blankets."

Suffolk Fire Service set in place their major emergency plan - and crews from across Suffolk raced to the village. Colleagues from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk were drafted in to help.

The blaze is understood to be in the main plaza building, which houses the showpiece Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise. Guests were in the swimming area when the blaze erupted at 10.21am but were quickly evacuated.

Suffolk Police said they were aware a huge Suffolk blaze was being dealt with - and officers were on their way to the scene.

The complex, hundreds of acres of Breckland in an area of outstanding natural beauty, is a magnet for families from across the region, including many from Suffolk and Norfolk.

It is one of three British bases for the Center Parcs company, now owned by a German bank. There are 10 more Center Parcs villages in France, Germany, Holland and Belgium. More than 2,000 guests are believed to be on site

Full details of the blaze were still coming through but A Suffolk Fire service spokesman said at noon that 4 jets were being used to quell the fire, in the restaurant and catering part of the main plaza building.

The Centre Parcs Village at De Eemhof, near Amsterdam, re-open only this week after a multi-million pound re-fit following a blaze which also seriously damaged the main plaza building.

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