Two women and a man were taken to hospital when a portable heater exploded in a pub beer garden while apparently being used as a heater by customers.
The gas-fuelled burner was alleged taken to the pub garden by drinkers to keep themselves warm and was being used without the permission of the landlady.
Neighbours reported hearing screams as the heater exploded in a fireball on an outside table at the 16th century King's Head pub in Great Cornard near Sudbury, Suffolk.
All three victims who had been drinking at the pub and were in their early 20s are said to have suffered serious burns just before 10pm last night (24 April).
Three ambulances, three Hazardous Area Response Team vehicles, and two ambulance officer vehicles turned up to the scene as well as two helicopters.
The trio were taken by road ambulance to hospital and one patient was taken to the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, with the other two going to West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds.
Police forensic officers were today carrying out an investigation in the pub garden which remained cordoned off with blue and white police tape.
Officers were seen examining a pair of women's coats which were dumped at the scene and appeared to be burned.
Ice buckets for drinks and several blankets being used by customers to keep themselves warm were also seen abandoned next to tables.
IT consultant John Collings, 41, who lives next door said: "I was watching a film when I heard a woman screaming loudly at around 10pm before hearing ambulances and police arrive.
"Before that there was just the general pub noise of people enjoying themselves in the garden. There had earlier been live music playing between around 5pm and 7pm
"I went out at about 11.30pm and saw blue lights were still flashing and spotlights had been set up by police.
"There were people hanging around and the police were telling them to move on. I also saw a helicopter with a searchlight. It was flying around doing a couple of sweeps of the area.
"The pub has been very busy since it reopened after lockdown, particularly on Friday and Saturday night."
The manager of the pub said: "I don't want to say much. We are obviously concerned for the people who were injured. But the stove that exploded was something that someone had brought in. We did not know anything about it."
King's Head landlady Sarah Bond said in a statement on the pub's Facebook page: "We're closed today following an incident last night.
"We're working closely with the police and authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are will those injured."
A police spokesperson said: "The three people, two females and one male, remain in hospital after sustaining serious injuries, which are not believed to be life-threatening but are potentially life-changing.
"A scene remains in place while officers continue to investigate the circumstances. However, it is due to be released later this afternoon."
Anyone with any information relating to the incident should contact Suffolk police on 101 quoting reference 398 of 24/04/2021.
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