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Fire in Sky Ride station

Park News
Sunday, 28th October 2007 By Dan Ketteringham

A fire broke out in the Main Drive station of the Sky Ride, located in the Forbidden Valley area of Alton Towers.

The fire, which started at 7:35pm this evening, was in the upper levels of the station building in the void between the layers of roofing. Due to the difficulty of getting water into this area, the fire took over six hours to put out, during which time a large amount of the roof was destroyed.

At one stage there were eight crews and fifty personnel from the Staffordshire Fire Brigade at the park. The emergency services were called two minutes after the blaze started, with fire engines and ambulances arriving at the scene at 7:51pm.

No guests were hurt in the incident, due to the Sky Ride having closed routinely at dusk. The park has been open later than usual during the last two weeks due to their Halloween Scarefest event.


As the fire started


The incident caused a power cut in the area, and some guests were stuck on the Monorail after it was stopped due to the levels of smoke. The fire was visible from quite a distance, with smoke and flames clearly seen across the valley. Guests had been directed out of the park soon after it started.

One eyewitness, Francesca Hughes, told us of how the incident unfolded from her perspective: "We saw smoke around the Forbidden Valley area, and at first we thought that the staff had set off some smoke machines to add to the effect of Halloween.

"A staff member came shooting out from the direction of the smoke to tell some other staff what had happened. We didn't think much of it at the time, and continued on to go on Nemesis.

"When we came off the ride, loads of staff members were telling us to evacuate the area, and by this time the smoke was very heavy. You could see the flames from where we were - they were huge!"



About 30 minutes after it started, seen from across the valley


The divisional director of Alton Towers, Russell Barnes, said in an interview with BBC News: "There were no guests at all involved on the ride, and we did in fact evacuate the area that we call the Forbidden Valley as a precaution. No guests have been injured or anything related to the incident, it really is just a structural issue at the moment.

"It's clear that we won't be running the cable car tomorrow. We won't be able to ascertain the damage until the morning. At the present moment in time our role is very much to support the brigade and let them carry on doing what they do best."


Asked about the cause of the fire, Mr Barnes said: "It's too early to say, we'll work with the brigade and try and understand how this fire has started."

Liz Greenwood, communications manager for the park, said: "Once the firefighters have damped down, we have got to do a clean-up of the area and make sure it's not too wet.

"We'll have staff in from 7.30am to have a look and assess the situation."


Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Alton Towers have said in a statement that the park will open as usual on Monday, although the Forbidden Valley may not open until later on in the day.

The Sky Ride was installed at the park in 1987, allowing guests to get from one end of the park to another without having to trek long distances.


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Queue for the front row on Nemesis. It's worth the wait.