Search

'There was a loud bang': holidaymakers tell of racecourse fire drama

PUBLISHED: 13:44 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 29 August 2019

Peter and Christine Starling, on holiday from Cambridgeshire, thought they were going to

Peter and Christine Starling, on holiday from Cambridgeshire, thought they were going to "lose everything" in the fire at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

Archant

Staff have been left devastated after a blaze tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse and forced holidaymakers to be evacuated.

Firefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: ArchantFirefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

The alarm was raised just after 4am on Thursday, when guests staying at the course's caravan site discovered a fire had broken out in a nearby workshop.

Fire crews began arriving minutes later and brought the flames under control by around 7am. An investigation to establish the cause of the blaze is under way.

Firefighters dampen down following the fire at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: ArchantFirefighters dampen down following the fire at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

Peter and Christine Starling, holidaymakers at the caravan site, were among those to raise the alarm after waking in the early hours.

"All of sudden there was a loud bang, so I shot out of bed and could see flames from the roof," said Mr Starling. "Someone rang the fire bell and I went round waking everyone up."

Fakenham crew manager Jamie Francis and Fakenham Racecourse CEO David Hunter. Picture: ArchantFakenham crew manager Jamie Francis and Fakenham Racecourse CEO David Hunter. Picture: Archant

Mrs Starling added: "We kept thinking we were going to lose everything, but the firefighters did a brilliant job so we're feeling very fortunate."

Despite such a damaging setback, David Hunter - chief executive and clerk of the course - said the consequences could have been "a lot worse" and vowed to "look at the bigger picture".

Firefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: ArchantFirefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

He said: "The blaze was completely contained to the groundsman's workshop. But that means we've lost machinery, maintenance equipment and the building is completely and utterly destroyed.

"The fire brigade were superb and understood my wish to prevent the fire from reaching the stables. There are no horses in there, but it could've had massive implications ahead of our first race in October.

Firefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: ArchantFirefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

"A lot has been damaged, but it's all replaceable. My head groundsman and colleagues are devastated by what they've seen, but it could have been considerably worse. Thank goodness nobody has been injured and we'll be up and running in no time."

Earlier this year Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service announced plans to replace Fakenham's second fire engine with a 4x4, but the decision was reversed following widespread uproar.

Firefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: ArchantFirefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

Having dealt with a fierce blaze that threatened to spiral out of control, crew manager Jamie Francis said the need for a second engine was evident.

"Things would have completely different here if we didn't have that second pump," he said.

Firefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: ArchantFirefighters battled a fire which tore through a workshop at Fakenham Racecourse. Picture: Archant

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Dereham Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists