HUNDREDS of people were evacuated from a busy leisure park at the weekend after a chemical scare.
The emergency services were called to Tower Park in Poole at 2.20pm on Saturday and Splashdown water park and the surrounding buildings, including the cinema and restaurants, were cleared.
Splashdown later said that the problem was a malfunction of a dosing injector in a plant room.
The decision was taken to evacuate and call the emergency services to investigate.
Many were left standing in their swimming costumes for more than two-and-a-half hours as their belongings remained inside the building.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service Incident Commander Ray Jones, East Dorset’s District Commander, said: “The reason for this large-scale evacuation is that we don’t want to run the risk of anyone being affected by this spill.”
One person was treated for minor injuries following the incident.
Inspector Steve White, who co-ordinated the police presence, said 20 officers were on the scene and several hundred were evacuated.
“LA Fitness has opened up to everyone who had to leave Splashdown,” he said.
Two firefighters wearing breathing masks entered the building during the afternoon and it was revealed that the chemical – used in chlorine – could be safely washed away.
Jackie Richmond, Splashdown’s co-owner said: “No one was affected apart from the disruption and inconvenience, for which we apologise.
“All pools have chemical dosing machinery and if there is any suggestion that there is a problem then we take it very seriously.
“In this case an alarm triggered and in the circumstances it was better to be safe and get it checked out properly in connection with the emergency services.
“A small leak was detected and appropriate action taken to clear it up and repair the equipment.”
The all-clear was given at 5.40pm and people allowed to return to the buildings.
Many people – including those in nothing more than swimwear – were forced to wait for more than three hours while the situation was dealt with.
Emily Woodgate and Zoe Barnes had both travelled from Weymouth to visit Splashdown, and stood outside wearing sheets of foil – known as Space Blankets – over their bikinis.
Zoe said: “It was absolute chaos when the alarm went off.
“No one seemed to know what was going on, and we had to leave everything in the lockers, even though we’d opened the door.”
Emily added: “The teenagers were all laughing, but lots of the kids were in tears.”
Bethany Etheridge and Gary Pickering took 10-year-old Bradley to the centre.
Bethany said: “We were just told that it wasn’t a drill and we needed to get out right away.”
For Alice Murden, the closure was particularly frustrating, as she had visited Splashdown with her cousin for her 13th birthday party.
She said: “All of my things are in a locker so we can’t go home.”
Kevin Searle was frustrated after leaving his car keys inside a restaurant.
“I think I must have left them inside, because we were in the middle of eating pizza when we were told to get out,” he said.
Hundreds evacuated from Splashdown and Empire cinema in Poole after chemical scare at Tower Park
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