Business as usual at Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre after smoke fills building

GREAT Yarmouth's Sealife Centre is open as normal today after smoke filled the building on Thursday night.

Staff closed the aquarium yesterday to deep clean the affected quarantine area but general manager Terri Harris said it was 'business as normal' today.

Four fire engines were sent to the seafront attraction after the service was alerted by an automatic alarm.

A faulty tank-chiller in the centre's behind the scenes quarantine unit caused smoke to billow through the building. A dozen common shore crabs in the specialist unit were overcome by the smoke, but there were no other casualties and no damage to the building.

Terri Harris, general manager, thanked the fire service for their 'amazing' response and neighbouring businesses who had offered support and help yesterday.

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She said: 'We spent yesterday taking the opportunity to deep clean everywhere. Local businesses have been fabulous, contacting me and offering help.'

Staff personally greeted visitors yesterday to explain the situation and arranged refunds or alternative dates for visitors who had purchased tickets in advance.

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Despite losing 12 common shore crabs Ms Harris said another dozen - that were in the same tank as those that were overcome by the smoke - had 'miraculously' survived, and staff were 'astounded' by how little damage there was to the building, considering the amount of smoke.

She added: 'There was never any risk to staff or public during the incident as it happened around 8.30pm

'Merlin's well practised emergency procedures were immediately implemented and the welfare of the animals was top priority.'

The faulty equipment was less than a year-and-a-half old and had given no cause for concern prior to this incident.

All electrical equipment at the centre is routinely safety-tested annually.

Fire crews were called to Marine Parade at 8.30pm and stayed at the scene until 10.30pm to ensure the scene was safe.

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