Evacuation drama in Dereham

IAN CLARKE A town centre market day drama in Dereham ended today after Army bomb disposal experts discovered that rusty objects found near a bowls green were wartime RAF fire extinguishers.

IAN CLARKE

A town centre market day drama in Dereham ended today after Army bomb disposal experts discovered that rusty objects found near a bowls green were wartime RAF fire extinguishers.

Dozens of staff were evacuated from their town centre offices in Dereham and told to go home after five canisters - initially possibly thought to be unexploded bombs - were found at St Nicholas Bowls Club at about 12pm.

Two bowls club members made the discovery while they were laying paving slabs.

Police were unable to say what the cylinders were and set up a 200 metre cordon around the site as a precaution.

The Dereham Business Centre - formerly Breckland Council's offices - was evacuated and people were told to go home.

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The business centre has a wide variety of tenants including Norfolk social services, Connexions, Keepsafe, Dereham Learning Station, Dereham Area Partnership and various small businesses.

The car park was also cleared and police tape sealed off the site.

The High Street is close to the bowls green, but was not affected and no shops had to be closed.

In fact, a lot of people walking along the High Street were unaware of the drama going on close by.

The Royal Logistic Corps Bomb Disposal Unit were called to inspect the objects and quickly found they were fire extinguishers and took them away in their van just before 2.15pm.

Staff Sergeant Shaun Temple, of the Royal Logistic Corps Bomb Disposal team, said: "There were five of them and they are possibly from an aircraft, part of a built in fire extinguisher. The plane is probably from the Second World War time period.

"They are definitely not ammunition. We will take them away to our base in Colchester and render them as scrap."

Breckland Council spokesman Mary Palmer thanked all the emergency services for their help and local people for their patience and co-operation.

Police spokesman Beth Manning said officers would always recommend people to report finds which were suspicious and they would call in experts to check them out.