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Snooker tournament ends in disaster as fire rips through nearby unit

PUBLISHED: 08:25 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:25 05 March 2019

The moment players at Norwich Snooker Academy are evacuated due to a nearby fire at Rackheath Industrial Estate. Photo: Norwich Snooker Academy

The moment players at Norwich Snooker Academy are evacuated due to a nearby fire at Rackheath Industrial Estate. Photo: Norwich Snooker Academy

Archant

The owner of a Rackheath snooker hall says his busiest-ever event ended in disaster when a nearby fire resulted in the venue’s evacuation.

Firefighters at the blaze at Rackheath Industrial Estate. Picture: Neil DidsburyFirefighters at the blaze at Rackheath Industrial Estate. Picture: Neil Didsbury

About 28 players were taking part in a tournament at the recently-opened Norwich Snooker Academy at Rackheath Industrial Estate on Sunday morning.

But about an hour into the event and everyone was ordered to leave due to a major fire at a business unit across the road.

Jin Foulger, who owns the snooker venue, said: “It was an absolute disaster because we had so many people in and we were on a tight schedule.

“The tournament was in mid-flow when we were rushed out. Some people had to leave their iPads and cues behind.”

The Norwich Snooker Academy was evacuated because of a fire in a near by unit on the Rackheath Industrial Estate, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe Norwich Snooker Academy was evacuated because of a fire in a near by unit on the Rackheath Industrial Estate, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

The 25-year-old said he arrived at the academy at about 9am and noticed a small amount of smoke coming from a unit on the opposite side of the Earl Road.

Multiple fire engines and police arrived a short while later as the blaze started to take hold.

Mr Foulger said the tournament started at 10am and players were being escorted to the venue by police due to the huge plume of smoke engulfing the estate.

He said: “When we opened the door you could just see smoke. People were having to cover their mouths.”

Norfolk Fire and Rescue at the scene of a blaze at the Power Tool Services unit in Rackheath Industrial Estate, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodNorfolk Fire and Rescue at the scene of a blaze at the Power Tool Services unit in Rackheath Industrial Estate, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

As the fire intensified at the nearby Power Tool Services police entered the snooker hall and ordered everyone to evacuate the building.

A quick head count was carried out and everyone was told to leave the scene.

Mr Foulger, who opened the academy in November last year, said he has since had to refund people’s entry to the tournament, which was part of a handicap ranking series.

“It was our busiest day we have had since being open,” he said. “It was a bit of a nightmare.”

He said he will rehost the event this Sunday, but has to cancel his birthday celebrations in order to do so.

It is not yet known how the fire started at the Power Tool Services unit on Earl Road.

No one was injured as a result of the incident.

The blaze destroyed the building and took fire crews several hours to extinguish on Sunday, March 3.

A neighbouring unit owned by Howarth Engineering is also believed to have suffered smoke damage.

Firefighters remained on scene throughout Monday.

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