‘His whole body was on fire’ - witnesses watched in horror as flames engulfed man at Great Yarmouth bar

Long John's Bar, Britannia Pier, Yarmouth. Long John's Bar, Britannia Pier, Yarmouth.

Monday, April 7, 2014
10:04 AM

Eye-witnesses have spoken of the horrifying moment a man “went up in flames” at a Great Yarmouth bar.

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General view of Britannia Pier on Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth.
September 2012

Picture: James BassGeneral view of Britannia Pier on Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth. September 2012 Picture: James Bass

The actions of staff and customers at Long John’s Showbar on Britannia Pier may have saved the life of a 34-year-old from Sheffield who suffered serious burns to his hands and torso in the early hours of yesterday.

Four men, who are known to the victim and are also from Sheffield, have been arrested and released on bail in connection with the incident. The victim, who was initially taken to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, had now been transferred to the Broomfield specialist burns unit in Chelmsford.

He is described as being in a serious but non life-threatening condition.

It is believed his T-shirt was set on fire as a prank and he was injured when flames engulfed him.

The drama unfolded at the bar at the end of the pier about 1.30am when the club packed with customers enjoying a night out.

One witness, who was buying drinks at the bar, said: “Out the corner of my eye I saw flames - at first thinking it was just a t-shirt alight then realising it was a guy on fire from his chest up, flames spreading towards his head,” said the man, who did not wish to be named.

“He started to slow drop to the ground with people patting him but the fire wasn’t going out. The music was still playing and nothing stopped.

“It smelled like a burning skin smell for ages and the place was full of smoke from him too.”

Keegan Snell, manager of Britannia Pier, said it looked as thought “his whole body was on fire”.

“He went up like a fireball,” said Mr Snell, who, with the help of others, got the man out of the bar and to an ambulance.

“We’re just hoping the guy is alright.

“He was in a bad way. The police told me it was touch and go.

“There were four or five of us helping him; he could walk but I don’t think he would have been able to on his own. As we were going down the pier, he had a t-shirt over his head and he was screaming. He was in a lot of distress. The ambulance got him away pretty quickly.”

Customers and staff used tea towels and shirts to put the flames out.

The entire incident was captured on the bar’s CCTV camera and footage has been handed to police.

It is believed the victim and the men arrested were visiting Yarmouth on a weekend away together,

Police confirmed that all the individuals involved, including the victim, were known to one another, adding: “This is being treated as an isolated incident with no wider threat to the community.”

They said it was understood that the man had been “set alight”.

The four men arrested, aged 24, 26, 28, 33, were taken to Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre for questioning and later released on bail.

Three of them have been bailed to return to Yarmouth police station in late May, while the 28-year-old is due back in early June.

Enquiries to establish the exact circumstances are ongoing and any witnesses who have not yet been spoken to or anyone who as knowledge of the what happened are asked to contact Great Yarmouth CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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