The annual meeting of the Fire Safety Committee in Harold Village Hall has been adjourned early after a fire broke out in the basement. Panic set in when it became obvious that no-one at the meeting had any formal training in handling a fire extinguisher. ‘Bucket of water,’ suggested one. ‘No!’ screamed another. ‘Water makes it worse if it’s the electrics. Or is that when it’s petrol?’
The building was soon evacuated and all the attendees could do was stand by and watch as smoke began to billow out of gratings in the pavement. News came through that the fire engine dispatched from Dunstable was held up in traffic in the Chiggley Moor Lane area, but then had to turn back due to the start of strike action.
PC Anita Flegg attended the scene and began her own investigation. Two men in a delivery van had been spotted round the back of the building earlier in the day, but it was quickly confirmed that they were there on legitimate business.
‘It was for a pre-arranged delivery in the lower storage area,’ confirmed Councillor Crossley, relighting his pipe as he chatted casually with PC Flegg. ‘I let them in myself so I could lock up securely afterwards. I mean, you don’t want to be taking any chances with five thousand pounds worth of fireworks, do you.’
‘Is that pounds weight or pounds money?’ asked PC Flegg, always keen to establish the facts as she pulled out her notebook. ‘Actually, it doesn’t matter,’ she added and moved everyone back to a safe distance. A makeshift cordon was set up using a roll of masking tape stretched from one lamppost to another as Crossley returned to the scene with a hastily constructed sign saying ‘Firework display, here, any second now.’
Everyone agreed that the impromptu display was ‘truly spectacular’, especially the way rockets came shooting unpredictably out of random drains. ‘Cool,’ said Ben Jeffery (7), ‘I can’t wait for the real thing.’