Park drama as theatre director and café staff tackle tree fire

Abi Giles tackles the fire.

Abi Giles tackles the fire. - Credit: Marguerite Skinner

A play director and café staff turned firefighters after spotting a blaze in a St Albans park.

Breakaway Theatre Company is currently performing Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy, A Brief History Of Women, at the Inn on the Park in Verulamium Park.

Talking to the Herts Ad before the run, director Abi Giles said that it was a hot show that was perfect for a hot summer, but she didn't realise how prophetic her words would be when a fallen tree was set ablaze mid-performance on Thursday evening.

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Verulamium Park.

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Verulamium Park. - Credit: Marguerite Skinner

She explained what happened: "We were just about to do a set change when this young lad came flying down the path on an electric scooter and told us a dead tree was on fire in the nearby field.

"We sent the actors on stage, ran into the café, filled up buckets of water, grabbed a fire extinguisher and legged it up there with Inn staff Trina Hewitt and Flora Chandler and managed to put it out.

"We were able to give the fire extinguisher to two firefighters who had been dropped off while the fire engine went round the gate. The buckets of water were used to dampen it and the fire extinguisher put it out.

"The lads who raised the alarm - Joe, Sid, Rhys and Matthew, from Marlborough Science Academy - had seen other teenagers messing around by the tree and when they ran off saw smoke and realised it was on fire.

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"They did the sensible thing with one of them ringing the fire brigade while the other one got on their scooter and came down to raise the alarm. He hooked the first two buckets of water on his scooter.

"Thankfully the audience didn't have a clue about the drama off-stage. I did warn the firefighters that the next scene was actually set at a fireworks display with a smoke machine, but typically we couldn't get it to work so we had a real fire but not a fake one!"

She added: "If the boys hadn't seen it the tree would have gone up in flames and that could have spread across the park, which was heaving as you can imagine."

The play runs until Saturday, August 6, and tickets are on sale at