A family says it warned staff at Brean’s Pontins holiday park about concerns over a 40-metre heating duct a day before it crashed to the ground, injuring 18 people.
They said the ceiling around the ducting in the holiday park’s ‘Fun Factory’ entertainment area looked unsafe.
Holidaymaker Kelvin Henry, who has been staying at the park this week, says: “I was sitting with my wife and children when she looked up above and she saw the roof wasn’t right.”
“It was bowed in and we left there early because we had concerns about the roof – we did report it to a member of staff.”
Another eyewitness, Jennifer McGarry, says she thought the sound of the ducting crashing down sounded like a “bomb going off,” with initial fears there could have been a terrorism attack. She and her family have left the holiday park early.
Sedgemoor District Council, as the enforcement and investigating authority, has begun the “complex” probe into the cause.
Spokeswoman Claire Faun told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We had Environmental Health (Health and Safety) officers at the site on Thursday. The room measures approximately 50m x 100m and has a bar area/dance floor. A heating and air-con duct which had been boxed in and attached to the wall gave way.”
“The investigation is likely to be complex and run for several months. Officers from Somerset Building Control Partnership are also on site.”
Eyewitnesses have described the frightening scene inside the Brean Sands holiday park on Wednesday evening following the incident.
Emergency services were called to just before 6.30pm on Wednesday after initial reports that a ceiling or wall had fallen inside the park’s ‘Fun Factory’ entertainment area.
South Western Ambulance Service said 18 patients were identified, with six needing to taken to hospital for a check-up or further treatment, and the remaining 12 patients being treated and discharged at the scene.
Laura Robinson, whose family of five children are staying at the site, said that about 100 people were inside the building at the time of the collapse.
She said: “We were in the family clubhouse… suddenly part of the roof came down halfway across the room, all across tables and people.”
Another woman said: “If I wouldn’t have moved a big slab of concrete would have landed on my head. It landed right by my feet.”
Ex-new Zealand cricketer Iain O’Brien said on Twitter that he’d returned to the holiday park after a day-out to find “a major panic site”.
He added: “Serious amount of emergency services. Staff very shaken and look like they could do with a hug or two.”
Britannia Hotels, which owns Pontins, has not issued a response to the incident despite several requests from Burnham-On-Sea.com.
A South Western Ambulance Service spokesman told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “As part of a multi-agency response to this incident, we sent a number of resources to the scene of the incident, including our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), two critical care teams, six ambulances and three officers.”
“Eighteen patients were identified, with six needing to taken to the nearby hospital Emergency Department for a check-up or further treatment. The remaining 12 patients were treated and discharged at scene.”
A Police spokesman told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Shortly before 6.30pm we were called to Brean Sands Holiday Park following reports a ceiling had collapsed inside a building. A number of people suffered minor injuries in the incident but thankfully no one was seriously hurt.”
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service told Burnham-On-Sea.com in a statement: “The incident involved the collapse of approximately 40m of structural ducting and ceiling sections, exposing live damaged electrics and making the scene unstable.”
“Fire crews used eight high-pressure airbags and small tools to establish that no persons were trapped beneath the collapse.”
The air ambulance is pictured above leaving the scene of the incident.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) spokesman told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “HSE has informed the police that this is a local authority enforced premises and therefore it is for the police and local authority to determine who will ultimately investigate.”