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Equipment malfunction leads to country club blaze

February 12, 2009
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LONDON – February 12, 2009 (CNews) -- A basement blaze caused significant damage to one of London's most prestigious private country clubs yesterday.

The London Hunt Club was evacuated just before 2 p.m. after fire broke out in its boiler room, forcing out dozens of club members and sparking concerns over a chemical spill.

"There was heavy smoke damage throughout the first and second floors," said Michael Black, a platoon chief with the city fire department, estimating the cleanup could cost upwards of $20,000.

A battery-operated, industrial floor-cleaning machine was being charged when the charger malfunctioned, starting the blaze. The machine, worth about $5,000, was destroyed.

Though no one was hurt, the fire department's hazardous materials team was called in to deal with a cleaning product that spilled in the same room.

"There was a concern about the way it was going to react if it came in contact with some of the battery acid that leaked from the machine," Black said. "(We) neutralized everything."

It was unclear last night if the club remained closed, though fire officials said activities were cancelled.

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