POLICE are conducting a full-scale investigation to establish the cause of the fire which completely gutted the Regal Ballroom, Tirydail, last Friday night.
This was revealed by Superintendent Merurig Thomas, Ammanford, this week.
Detective Sergeant Roy Davies, who is in charge of investigations said:
“We have drawn no conclusions yet but are still making inquiries.
“We hope that forensic tests now being carried out in Cardiff will enable us to establish the cause of the fire.”
A police spokesman said later that he could not state yet if any charges were likely to arise.
Damage caused by the fire was estimated by Mr. Denzil Price, the ballroom manager, to be in the region of £20,000.
Mr. R. H. Rumble, chairman of Flat Hire Ltd, Swansea, the company which owns the building, says his firm has suffered a serious loss.
“Our insurance cover was based on what was paid for the building.
“Now we are in grave trouble for it would cost us about £40,000 to erect another to hold 1,400 dancers as the Regal did,” he said.
Mr Rumble revealed that the fire had put paid to plans envisaged for the ballroom by his company,
“We had got to the stage of arranging a meeting with Mr. Scott of Scott Lanes Ltd, Llanelli, and in conjunction with him we had hoped to stage some very attractive shows in the autumn.”
Thirty firemen from Ammanford, Tumble, and Llanelli directed by deputy chief officer, H. Penrhyn Jones, raced to the blaze after receiving the alarm.
Mr. Bob Andrews, the driver of a diesel passenger train plying between Llanelli and Llanwrtyd Wells spotted smoke building up at one end of the hall when his train pulled into nearby Tirydail Station at 7.24pm.
Said Mr. Andrews: Just as we were about to leave two minutes later the entire building burst into flames.”
FLAMES SEEN FROM DISTANCE OF 12 MILES
Within minutes the hall, was a blazing inferno which could be seen by firemen racing to the assistance of the Ammanford brigade from a distance of 12 miles.
Mrs. Emrys Price who lives in Tirydail-lane – alongside the premises – was collecting washing from her garden line.
She told the Guardian reporters: “I saw smoke curling around the roof to begin with and then just in a couple of seconds the whole building seemed to explode exactly as if a bomb had gone off. It was an inferno, there is no other name for it.
“My eight-year daughter Jane was hysterical because the flames were so near the houses. It's a wonder the windows have not broken because of the heat.”
Mrs. Price's mother, Mrs. Ben Jones, who was in the house at the time, said she was frightened because the flames were “Coming over the houses in the street.”
“The heat was terrific. You could have cooked ham and eggs in the garden,” she said.
Cause of the fire remains a mystery but one possible explanation was given by Mr. R. H. Rumble who thinks it could well have been caused by an electric transformer situated in the centre of the building.
FACTORY TO REPLACE BALLROOM?
One possible out come of the fire which destroyed the Regal Ballroom is likely to benefit the unemployment-hit town of Ammanford and surrounding district.
The site could now be used for industrial development in the form of a new factory for the area.
This idea was put to me last week-end by Mr. R. H. Rumble, who owned the ballroom.
Mr. Rumble said: “We had originally intended to extend the site by buying the land adjacent to the ballroom from British Rail.
“However, as a result of the fire my personal opinion is that given the co-operation of British Rail and the Board of Trade in the form of incentive grants we could well consider building a factory there – something which is badly needed in the district.”
Mr. Evans who lives near the building and who was employed as caretaker of the ballroom, told reporters that the only people he had let in to the premises were prospective buyers.
My friends and I were walking up from the railway line and came across this. I was eighteen then. The heat was terrific.
A crack eventually split the front down the middle. At the end of the fire, all was standing was the front.
It looked like the last stand at the Alamo. An apt name for what went on in there at times. Great days. What memories.
Yes and I was there. A mate and I used to work in the cloak rooms when we were thirteen. But that's another story.