Church evacuated as fire fills building with smoke

Canon Ian Black with the fire damaged organ at St John's in Cathedral Square EMN-160323-173337009

Canon Ian Black with the fire damaged organ at St John's in Cathedral Square EMN-160323-173337009

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Smoke came pouring out of an organ at an historic city centre church after a fault on a pump caused a small fire.

St John’s Church in St John’s Square, Peterborough, had to be evacuated after the fire started in the electrical organ blower at about 5.30pm on Sunday night.

While the church escaped major damage, the organ could be out of action for up to three months.

Canon Ian Black, from the church, said: “The organ blower pump had a problem, for reasons we don’t understand at the moment.

“There were about 100 people in the church at the time, and they all had to leave the building.

“I was not there, but went when I heard what had happened.

“I saw the smoke, and it was a worrying moment. Thankfully the blower is in a vault away from the church, so there was no danger of the building burning to the ground. There has been no damage to anything else in the church, but there was the smell of smoke for a couple of days, but that has gone now.

“The pump will be out of action for between three weeks and three months, so we will have to use a piano instead.”

Canon Black said a number of people, including homeless people, had expressed concern over the fire.

He said an investigation into any damage caused to the organ itself was still ongoing.

A Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue spokesman confirmed crews spent more than an hour at the scene tackling a small fire, and using a positive pressure ventilation fan to clear smoke from the church.