Blackpool Pleasure Beach hit by fire

LEISURE park bosses were inspecting the damage today after fire tore through one of their top attractions.

The Grand National ride and two others were damaged in the blaze which broke out at Blackpool Pleasure Beach last night.

However, a spokeswoman for the Pleasure Beach insisted the rides were not beyond repair.

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Patrolling security staff raised the alarm at about 9.20pm yesterday.

Ten fire crews battled to contain the fire to the Grand National ride, which is a smaller version of a big dipper, watched by a crowd gathered outside.

Two other rides, Alice in Wonderland and Trauma Towers, were also damaged.

"At the time of the fire, the amusement park was closed to the public," a statement from leisure park bosses said.

"A full investigation will take place and Blackpool Pleasure Beach will open for business as usual from 1pm today."

Gill Bridges, a spokeswoman for the Pleasure Beach, added that it was too early to assess the extent of the damage.

She said: "We have 145 rides on the site and only three of them have been damaged in the fire. A full investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, which we believe started in the queuing station for the Grand National ride."

Miss Bridges dismissed speculation that the close proximity of the rides had helped the fire to spread.

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"That is part of the charm of the place, the fact we have so many rides on such a small site," she added.

Witness Marc Ellis, 33, from Fleetwood, near Blackpool, said: "It looked really bad and the police were trying to stop anybody getting anywhere near the place but quite a crowd had gathered to see what was happening.

"It’s a real shame. This is a really popular place in Blackpool."

Police had to cordon off the roads surrounding the area while scores of firefighters tackled the blaze.

A hydraulic platform, which can reach heights of 33 metres, attended the scene as well as an incident support unit and a major accident support unit.