Roof work led to disastrous blaze

THE BLAZE which destroyed Center Parcs was caused by roofing contractors, an investigation revealed today.The finished Suffolk Fire Service report reveals that the fire began on the flat roof area of the holiday complex in Thetford Forest above a catering area and adjacent to the plaza.

By Tracey Sparling

THE BLAZE which destroyed Center Parcs was caused by roofing contractors, an investigation revealed today.

The finished Suffolk Fire Service report reveals that the fire began on the flat roof area of the holiday complex in Thetford Forest above a catering area and adjacent to the plaza.

From this point it broke through the wall of Huckleberry's restaurant and was too well developed for the firefighting efforts of Center Parcs' own fire response team.


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Contractors and the fire responders tried to contain the fire but were unable to prevent it spreading until much of the flat roofing area was alight.

Malcolm Alcock, chief fire officer said today: "We have worked very closely with Center Parcs staff and management throughout this investigation. It is clear that the efficient actions of their staff to quickly alert the fire brigade and initiate their emergency fire procedures ensured that everyone was successfully evacuated and nobody was hurt.

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More than 40 appliances in total attended the fire on April 4, and he added: "I cannot praise the fire crews from the four counties enough. This was a demanding fire which tested everybody to their limits. Throughout the entire incident, crews were up against a rapidly developing fire, thick smoke and physically punishing conditions without any prospect of early relief. It is a tribute to their endurance and professionalism that so much of the structure was saved, and that the fire did not spread through surrounding woodland to other risks."

Meanwhile the Corporate Solutions Department of Ipswich insurance giant Axa is dealing with the policy for the Suffolk holiday complex.

The claim is believed to include compensation for a massive loss of business, as well as the damaged Elveden site and its contents.

Center Parcs had to give 3,500 holidaymakers refunds for their vacations at the time of the blaze, and many more visits have had to be cancelled since.

It is believed that 200-300 staff work at Axa in Ipswich, and a further 100 are employed in a London office.

London-based Axa spokeswoman Liz Williams said: "I can confirm Axa Corporate Solutions does have an involvement in this case.

"We are working very closely with Center Parcs on this, but while the investigation is ongoing I cannot reveal any more details."

The 400-acre site is one of three British bases for the Center Parcs company, now owned by a German bank. The others are at Longleat and Sherwood forests.

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