Fire breaks out at village hall only minutes before council meeting

Potter Heigham Village Hall fire

An electrical fire broke out at Potter Heigham Village Hall on Wednesday, May 11. - Credit: Courtesy of MW/Louise Parker

A village hall was 'lucky' to suffer only minor damage during a fire that broke out minutes before a council meeting was to take place.

Sheridan Turner, chairperson of Potter Heigham parish council, has described how she saw smoke and sparks in a room in the building on School Road on Wednesday evening (May 11).

She was at the venue preparing for both the village's annual parish meeting and the annual meeting of the parish council, which had been scheduled to begin at 7pm.

Sheridan Turner, chairperson of Potter Heigham parish council.

Sheridan Turner, chairperson of Potter Heigham parish council. - Credit: Courtesy of Sheridan Turner

Ms Turner said: "I got there with another councillor at 6.30pm. The clerk was already there, waiting for us, working on her laptop.

"She had switched on a strip of lights and a couple of heaters, nothing out of the ordinary."

Minor damage at Potter Heigham Village Hall after a fire

Minor damage at Potter Heigham Village Hall after a fire on May 11. - Credit: Courtesy of Louise Parker

Ms Turner felt the hall was now a comfortable temperature so she went to turn off the heaters.

"Just as I went to turn them off, the lights started flashing. It sounded like somebody had let off a load of firecrackers," she said.

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"I turned the heaters and lights off. When I turned the lights back on, they started flickering again and I heard bang bang bang bang."

She went to check the electrical box which is located in a back room, but when she opened the door she saw thick grey smoke, sparks and one flame.

She shut the door and told the clerk to call 999 before they grabbed the projector and waited outside.

A fire broke out at a commercial building at Potter Heigham.

A fire broke out at a commercial building at Potter Heigham. - Credit: Paul Rice

Appliances from Gorleston, Great Yarmouth and Wroxham converged on the scene.

Firefighters wore breathing apparatus and used main jets and hose reel jets to extinguish the fire. 

The property was ventilated using a positive pressure ventilation fan and the incident was under control by about 7.50pm.

Ms Turner said none of the damage is structural but they will need to replace the electrical box and tidy the room.

"Thank goodness we were there, because if we hadn't been it could be a very different story. Because I shut the door, the fire was contained in that room," she said.

"We were very lucky."

Potter Heigham village hall

An electrical fire broke out in a back room in Potter Heigham Village Hall on Wednesday, May 11. - Credit: Courtesy of Louise Parker

A number of events that were to be held at the village hall have been cancelled including bingo on Saturday (May 14) and zumba class on Monday morning (May 16).

Ms Turner said she cannot yet say when the hall will be available again for use.