PEOPLE TRAPPED – FEARS
FEARING people were trapped inside a blazing building, firemen bravely dashed into Ammanford's smoke-logged Olympia health and fitness gymnasium.
They were met by a scene of devastation. Flames were leaping through the roof which was in danger of collapsing.
“Firemen had to brave extra danger and take for more risks than they would normally take because they thought they had to rescue people – that was the message we received,” said Dyfed fire Brigade's third officer, Divisional Officer Stan Lewis.
“It was a very serious fire and difficult to fight because the gymnasium is a very long building in the middle of a terrace and entry from the rear was difficult.
“Part of the roof void was burning when firemen arrived and they had to work quickly to stop the fire spreading to adjoining premises which were evacuated.”
The Sunday evening blaze was fought by Ammanford, Llandeilo and Tumble firemen and so many breathing apparatus were needed that extra cylinders had to brought from Llanelli.
The partners running the gymnasium this week vowed they would soon be back in business.
“It will be re-built very shortly,” said David Gary Rees, of Pontardulais and Leigh James Bray, of Morriston.
“We are devastated, the business was doing really well,” said Mr Bray. “All the equipment has been destroyed and much of the building. The fire started downstairs in the main gym area. Firemen did a good job to stop it from spreading.”
Insurance inspectors assessing the cost of the damage said it ran into “many thousands of pounds.”
An investigative team including Dyfed Fire Brigade, the Police Scenes of Crime and the Home Office Forensic Science department are investigating the cause.
The partners who opened the gymnasium in March last year, rented the building from landlords Grant Howells and Alan James, son and son-in-law respectively of Ammanford bookmaker Kenneth Howells.
- Mr. James said the fire was probably caused by an electrical fault.