Quick-thinking Wrexham caretaker tackles blaze

Reporter:

Garth Ap-Thomas

THIS is courageous caretaker John Hughes – hailed a hero for saving a popular community venue from going up in flames.

Mr Hughes tackled the blaze in The Opportunity Centre, Acrefair, after it was targeted in a night-time attack.

And like many heroes, Mr Hughes insists he was just doing his job.

He told the Leader: “It was a situation where you got the job done as soon as you possibly could.”

Arsonists struck at the centre at about 11.40pm on Wednesday night.

Mr Hughes said: “I had a call from the alarm company saying a detector had gone off in the centre so I went to investigate.”

On his arrival he found a fire had been started and the hall of the building was already full of thick, black smoke.

He used a fire extinguisher to tame the flames and firefighters from North Wales Fire and Rescue also attended.

A number of items were burned but the impact of the blaze was largely limited to smoke damage and clean-up work is now under way.

A spokesman for Plas Madoc Communities First (PMCF) said the building was still being used but restrictions were in place.

He said: “The instinctive reaction of our caretaker has most probably saved the building and in doing so ensured those people who use it on a daily basis to access services can continue to do so.

“For this and the assistance from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, the board is very grateful.

“PMCF is obviously very distressed to learn that it appears someone would seek to deliberately set fire to the centre and is thankful that no one was hurt.

“We would appeal to anyone who may have seen or heard any suspicious activity around the area on Wednesday night to come forward and let the police know.”

The building is home to a large number of services used by the community, including the Little Sunflowers childcare service and Lil Stars Playgroup.

The PMCF spokesman added: “Reach for Work has just set up in the PMCF drop in, helping people to access employment support and linking in with existing partner agencies such as Action for Children, Women’s Aid, Shelter, CAIS, and In2change, that use the building to meet members of the community.”

The building is also the base for nine PMCF staff.

On the evening of the fire youth workers had held a cooking club for 12 young people and the 50+ group had held its weekly bingo session.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the fire had been started deliberately and a spokesman for North Wales Police said inquiries were continuing.

See full story in the Leader

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