Father Christmas forced to flee after Grotto burns down

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Christmas was cancelled for some unlucky children after Santa and his two elves were forced to flee a fire which broke out in their festive grotto.

Children who were waiting to meet Father Christmas had to be evacuated as the fire wrecked the grotto in a marquee at Notcutts Garden Centre in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Flames shot around 20ft into the air and destroyed decorations and presents which were due to be handed to children, who paid £9.50 each to visit the attraction.

Children who were waiting to meet Father Christmas had to be evacuated as the fire wrecked the grotto in a marquee at Notcutts in Woodbridge, Suffolk

Children who were waiting to meet Father Christmas had to be evacuated as the fire wrecked the grotto in a marquee at Notcutts in Woodbridge, Suffolk

Children who were waiting to meet Father Christmas had to be evacuated as the fire wrecked the grotto in a marquee at Notcutts in Woodbridge, Suffolk

Two fire crews from Woodbridge and Ipswich used hose reels to extinguish the blaze just before 4pm on Sunday.

Video filmed by a witness showed the Father Christmas in his white beard and full costume pacing around with his elves in their red outfits as firefighters tackled the flames.

The cause of the fire, which led to the garden centre being evacuated and closed for the day, has not yet been established.

One shopper praised the prompt action of Father Christmas and his helpers who made sure nobody was hurt.

Two fire crews from Woodbridge and Ipswich used hose reels to extinguish the blaze just before 4pm on Sunday

Two fire crews from Woodbridge and Ipswich used hose reels to extinguish the blaze just before 4pm on Sunday

Two fire crews from Woodbridge and Ipswich used hose reels to extinguish the blaze just before 4pm on Sunday

The centre re-opened for business today, but the grotto remains closed.

A black pall of smoke rising from the wrecked grotto was visible from all round Woodbridge town centre.

Paramedics in an ambulance were sent to the blaze as a precaution, but nobody needed treatment.

A spokesman for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘Children need not worry – Father Christmas is fine and he is back in the North Pole tonight.’

The spokesman added: ‘Two appliances attended a report of a fire at a garden centre.

‘Crews found a marquee used as Santa’s grotto to be well alight and they used two hosereel jets to extinguish.’

A Notcutts spokeswoman said: ‘On Sunday December 3, a fire in the Woodbridge Christmas grotto led to the closure of the store as a precautionary measure.

‘Fire crews were on site quickly and no customers or colleagues were injured during the incident.

‘The centre manager and colleagues were quick to follow safety protocol at the time of the incident and we are undertaking a thorough investigation.

Flames shot around 20ft into the air and destroyed decorations and presents which were due to be handed to children paying £9.50 each to visit the attraction

Flames shot around 20ft into the air and destroyed decorations and presents which were due to be handed to children paying £9.50 each to visit the attraction

Flames shot around 20ft into the air and destroyed decorations and presents which were due to be handed to children paying £9.50 each to visit the attraction

‘Unfortunately, the grotto will remain closed until further notice.

‘Any customers with pre-booked grotto tickets should contact customer care for more information.

‘The main garden centre and restaurant will reopen as usual on Monday December 4.

‘We would like to thank emergency services for their quick response and customers for their cooperation while we dealt with this incident.’  



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