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.
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.
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.
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