Fire at Norfolk village hall was arson

Three Holes Village Hall suffers severe damage in blaze today. Norfolk fire service says it was started deliberately.

A fire which tore through the village hall in Three Holes, near Welney, this morning is being treated as arson, it emerged today.

Firefighters from Downham Market, Outwell and Wisbech were called to the building, in Squire's Drove, at 5am.

They took almost five hours to put out the fire and damp down the scene.

'It was definitely deliberate,' a Norfolk fire service spokesman said. 'The store room at the rear was completely destroyed, the bar was severely fire-damaged and the rest of the hall was smoke-logged.'

Police are now investigating the cause of the fire. It is believed it was started at the rear of the building, after a break-in at the hall.

Village hall secretary Rita Cuss said: 'The full extent of the damage will not be known for some time but the damage to the main areas of the hall is sufficiently severe to prevent use.'

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She said the hall would now be closed until future notice and all public and private events will have to be cancelled.

Voters in next month's local elections who would have voted at Three Holes Village Hall will now have to vote at Lakesend Village Hall.

West Norfolk council said new polling cards would be sent out.

Mrs Cuss said the Easter Bingo fund-raiser planned for tomorrow evening will now go ahead, after Outwell Village Hall offered to host the event, which starts at 7pm.

Village hall committee chairman Brian Ranger said: 'We've had a number of attempted break-ins in the past; it's so frustrating as nothing of value is kept at the hall.

'I have recently sent off one funding application for more improvements to the hall and have another almost complete and now these will have to be torn up.'

Anyone with an outstanding booking requiring more information should contact Carol Manning on 01945 773961.

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