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'We can't win anymore' - residents despair after fire rips through former holiday park

PUBLISHED: 15:30 22 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:40 23 August 2019

The damage to the former Pontins holiday park after a blaze there on Thursday, August 22. A second fire has broken out on August 28. Photo: Jamie Honeywood

The damage to the former Pontins holiday park after a blaze there on Thursday, August 22. A second fire has broken out on August 28. Photo: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

People living in a Norfolk village have expressed their despair after a fire ripped through a former holiday park.

The former Pontins holiday park in Hemsby engulfed in flames following a fire on Thursday. Picture: Luke NuddThe former Pontins holiday park in Hemsby engulfed in flames following a fire on Thursday. Picture: Luke Nudd

Six fire crews rushed to the former Pontins Site in Hemsby in the early hours of Thursday morning to tackle the blaze.

Pictures taken from near to the site off Beach Road show the holiday park engulfed in flames.

The latest fire is one of a long list of incidents which firefighters have been called out to in recent years.

Doreen and Barry Caulder, who live near to the site, said they did not hear the fire on Thursday morning but were not surprised it had happened.

The Pontins site was closed in 2008. Picture: Joseph NortonThe Pontins site was closed in 2008. Picture: Joseph Norton

"We moved to Hemsby five years ago because it was a nice little village," Mr Caulder said.

"What is going on at this site is not acceptable.

"I've seen the development proposals but the reality is it's too late.

"We can't win anymore."

The aftermath of a fire at the derelict holiday camp in Hemsby last year. Picture: Mick HowesThe aftermath of a fire at the derelict holiday camp in Hemsby last year. Picture: Mick Howes

Last month Great Yarmouth Borough Council approved controversial plans to build nearly 200 homes on the site.

This was despite objections being lodged by residents, Hemsby Parish Council and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis - all adamant the land should be retained for holiday use.

One holidaymaker who has owned a chalet at the neighbouring Florida holiday park for 16 years described the current situation as sad.

She said: "It's such a shame to know in years gone by the holiday park was full of tourists.

A fire at the old Pontins site in Hemsby last year. Picture Liasa DellerA fire at the old Pontins site in Hemsby last year. Picture Liasa Deller

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"The fires seem to happen on such a regular basis they're not a surprise anymore."

The holidaymaker, who was in Hemsby with her partner and two children, hopes the site is used for tourism.

Thursday's fire is believed to have started in the old theatre in the main building.

Holes in the fence surrounding the former Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Joseph NortonHoles in the fence surrounding the former Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Joseph Norton

In June, this newspaper revealed Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service were called to 14 fires at Pontins in the last five years.

The most serious was in August last year when 90 firefighters battled a blaze at the main clubhouse of the 2,440-capacity holiday park.

A single, basic call-out for the fire service costs around £300.

Fire crews remained on scene on Thursday morning and smoke was still visible.

The former Pontins holiday park in Hemsby engulfed in flames following a fire on Thursday. Picture: Luke NuddThe former Pontins holiday park in Hemsby engulfed in flames following a fire on Thursday. Picture: Luke Nudd

A number of holes could also be seen in the fencing which surrounds the holiday park with cans and bottles of beer scattered close by.

A spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue said an investigation would be launched into the incident with the cause not yet known.

Owners of the site - which has been derelict since 2008 - Northern Trust, have been contacted for comment.

Fire-fighters using the aerial platform to damp down after a large fire at the old Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodFire-fighters using the aerial platform to damp down after a large fire at the old Pontins holiday park in Hemsby. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

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