Firefighters fight Southerness leisure centre fire

Firefighters were called in the early hours. Picture: Tony Marsh
Firefighters were called in the early hours. Picture: Tony Marsh
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A HUGE holiday complex with more than 200 caravans is without water and power after fire ripped through a leisure centre at Southerness, 10 miles south of Dumfries.

• Fire in large holiday complex leaves over 200 caravans without water and power

• More than 30 firefighters tackled blaze in Southerness

• Mermaid leisure complex, which includes a swimming pool, bar, shop and restaurant, has been destroyed by the fire

The blaze was less than 100 yards from where a caravan was gutted on Sunday night and three others damaged.

More than 30 firefighters from five brigades battled throughout the night to control the fire which ripped through the building after it was discovered just after midnight.

But the Mermaid leisure complex which houses a bar, a shop, restaurant, leisure facilities and a swimming pool was completely destroyed along with the water and power supply facilities for the 220 pitches on the Lighhouse Leisure Caravan site in the holiday village.

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s emergency services have activated their emergency centre and staff at Dumfries after the fierce blaze, the second major fire at Southerness in the space of 30 hours, after it knocked out power supplies and water to hundreds of tourists.

The council is working with the site owner and other water and power agencies to secure the site and put in temporary water and power in place.

Although the owners said they were too upset to speak, the site is coming up to its busiest times of the year with the Glasgow Fair and then the English school holidays..

On Sunday night a caravan was destroyed in a blaze with three others damaged only 100 yards from this leisure complex fire.

The fire was discovered minutes after the owners had locked up just after midnight, Fortunately no one was injured in the fire but some of the nearby caravanners and campers tried to fight the flames with fire extinguishers until the arrival of the emergency services.

But the building was engulfed in flames which soared 30 and 40 feet into the air and could be seen for miles.

One said: “We tried but the building just seemed to go up in minutes. I have tent next to it and we tried to remove beer kegs and gas bottles to stop explosions. But there was no way we could do anything. I walked past just minutes before and it was just shortly after this that everything kicked off.”

Another resident added: “We just heard a noise and then when we looked out we saw it was the club.” One man whose caravan was only yards from the blazing building said: “We were in bed when we were knocked up. We got out as quickly as we could because the building was blazing and there was smoke everywhere.”

Another local added: “I was in the Mermaid until about 10.45 and went back to my van. Then I heard a commotion and a saw the whole building on fire.”

A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesman saidA Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesman said: “Our safety and resilience team was notified of the incident at the leisure complex at Southerness and our emergency centre was activated and a small team was assembled to support the emergency response and recovery.”

He added: “The fire completely destroyed the main leisure complex building along with the electrical supply for pitches, and water supply to stand pipes. Residents who were evacuated have now been allowed back to their vans.

“The Council is currently working with the site owner and other agencies to secure the site and put temporary power and water supplies in place. The Council’s DGFirst has deployed two catering units to provide welfare support. The Council’s Economic Regeneration team is working on business support and recovery.”

The leisure centre is surrounded by dozens of caravans and some holidaymakers had to be moved from their caravans which were close to the complex. Firefighters from Dalbeattie, three units from Dumfries and one from Castle Douglas along with an aerial appliance, fought the blaze but were unable to save the complex. During the day they were making the area safe and trying to find the cause of the fire.

The building is popular with the thousands of holidaymakers who visit Southerness on the Solway Coast each week.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “We received the call at midnight and sent five fire engines from Dumfries, Dalbeattie, and Castle Douglas, and one supervisory officer.

“Our firefighters used four hose reel jets, three main jets, and an aerial appliance and have been there all morning.”

An investigation into the cause of the fire is being carried out.