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Ipswich cinema hit by fire

PUBLISHED: 12:16 28 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:34 03 March 2010

IPSWICH's largest cinema could be closed for the start of the weekend following a blaze early today.

Six fire crews from across the county were called to the UGC Cinema in Grafton Way at around 7.

IPSWICH's largest cinema could be closed for the start of the weekend following a blaze early today.

Six fire crews from across the county were called to the UGC Cinema in Grafton Way at around 7.30 this morning.

Gilly Thomson, operations manager at the 11 screen cinema said they would definitely be closed for the first half of today and were still unsure whether they would be ready to open this evening.

Film fans looking forward to seeing the opening of films Enigma and Mike Bassett could be disappointed if the cinema remains closed for the rest of the day.

Ms Thomson described her shock at being woken up and told about the fire.

She said: "I did not know what to think when I heard.

"I got the call at around 7.40am and phoned the nearest manager to come in and I followed them down here.

"At the moment we still don't know what is going to happen."

Quick thinking cleaners on their way to work at the cinema raised the alarm after hearing warning systems going off as they tried to get into the building.

But fire crews were already on their way from Princes Street after being alerted by the automatic fire alarm.

With smoke pouring from vents in the building the decision was made to send five other units to help tackle the blaze, from Colchester Road, Holbrook and Felixstowe as well as operational support units.

As more and more crews arrived at the scene groups of onlookers gathered as firemen went onto the top of the cinema in the turntable ladder to try and locate the fire.

Because of the size of the building paramedics were also called to be on standby.

The blaze was eventually found after about 30 minutes in a power intake room in a large battery back up pack on the second floor.

Four firemen wearing breathing apparatus and using one hose reel were able to get the fire under control and contained to the plant room and the ventilation shaft, but crews were not stood down until the power had been cut off to prevent the fire starting up again.

Electricity company 24Seven were called out to locate the supply and isolate the power.

Thermal imaging cameras were in use to find hotspots in the building in case the fire had spread into the roof area.

Assistant Divisional Officer Geoff Pyke said that the fire had not been big but because of the nature and the structure of the building they were required to send six pumps to the scene.

He said: "A lot of the engines here are not needed but until we are confident that the fire will not go up again we will not leave."

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