Receptionist discovered homeopathy centre fire on first day of term for new students
- Credit: Geraldine Scott
The first day of term for a group of homeopathy students nearly didn't go ahead, after a member of staff discovered a fire on the third floor of their college.
Maria Mortimer, receptionist at the Complementary Health Care Clinic in Exchange Street, Norwich, arrived at work on Saturday morning and went to open a window in a seminar room upstairs, where students were due to be taught later that day.
But at around 8.15am, the fire alarm went off and in that same room a blaze had ignited.
Firefighters from Carrow, Earlham and Sprowston went to the scene and took about half an hour to put out what Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service described as a 'small fire'.
Owner Tricia Stephenson said: 'We run the Homeopathic College of East Anglia here and it's the first day of term.
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'Luckily the estate agents across the road have let us use their seminar room so the students are across there. Now it's just all hands on deck for the clean up.'
Students at the college study part-time for four years to gain a qualification in homeopathy.
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Manager Alex Laws-Chapman, who had come in to help, said they would have to look at clearing out two other rooms so they could be used, not only for the college but for other sessions they hold, such as yoga.
'We're lucky the alarm went off and we're lucky it happened when it did,' said Mrs Stephenson.
'The firemen said if it had happened at night when no one was here and spread, because of where it was it could have gone along the roofs and taken out the whole block.'
Miss Mortimer added: 'It's scary how quickly it all happened. But the fire crews were brilliant.'
A thermal image camera was also used to check for hotspots and a ventilation fan was used to disperse the smoke in the building.
Mrs Stephenson said although they weren't sure of the cause, it was most likely due to an electrical fault.