Faulty sauna sparked swimming pool blaze

A fire which tore through a council leisure centre is believed to have started in a faulty sauna, it emerged today.Fire investigators and insurance assessors have spent the day examining St James Pool, in King's Lynn's Blackfriars Street, in a bid to discover what caused last night's blaze.

A fire that tore through a council leisure centre is believed to have been sparked by a faulty sauna.

Fire investigators and insurance assessors spent yesterday examining St James Swimming and Fitness Centre, in King's Lynn, in a bid to discover what caused Monday night's blaze.

Seven fire crews from across west Norfolk took more than an hour to bring the fire under control.

Yesterday, a large hole could be seen in the roof of the fitness suite and sauna, but officials said that the swimming pool, which occupies the same building, had escaped damage.

Watch manager Clive Bush, from King's Lynn fire station, said: "We are putting it down to a fault in the sauna. The fire was in the sauna area and there was no sign of a break-in.

"We had six pumps and the aerial platform there. It wasn't a massive fire but the potential was there and we needed to deal with it quickly."

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London Road was closed to traffic at the junction of London Road, Blackfriars Street and Railway Road, while a large crowd gathered in The Walks to watch the drama unfold.

Yesterday West Norfolk council said the building had been made safe but that it would remain closed while investigations continued into the cause of the blaze.

The council's deputy chief executive, Dave Thomason, said: "We want to reopen the facility as soon as possible, but until our insurance assessors have been to the site, we are unable to start any work in the damaged area.

"The main pool area itself appears to be undamaged so we are currently exploring potential temporary solutions that will enable us to get that part of the complex open to the public again as soon as possible."

The council is reminding customers that swimming and fitness facilities are also available at The Oasis in Hunstanton and Downham Market Leisure Centre. Fitness facilities are available at Lynnsport in King's Lynn.

A spokesman said: "We can only apologise for the inconvenience that this incident will cause and hope that our customers will bear with us over the coming few weeks while we carry out the necessary work to get the facility open again."

Updates will be posted on the council's website at www.west-norfolk.gov.uk and once phone lines have been restored, customers will also be able to call the centre on 01553 764888 to find out the latest position.

The facility, which originally opened as a swimming pool in 1974, attracts up to 230,000 visitors each year.

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