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Golfers overcome tunnel handicap

PUBLISHED: 17:39 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:07 23 August 2010

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TWENTY golfers had to abandon plans for a weekend s play in France after the Channel Tunnel was closed following a devastating lorry fire. Scores of drivers ran for safety after a vehicle carrying poisonous chemicals exploded into a fireball, according t

TWENTY golfers had to abandon plans for a weekend's play in France after the Channel Tunnel was closed following a devastating lorry fire.

Scores of drivers ran for safety after a vehicle carrying poisonous chemicals exploded into a fireball, according to operator Eurotunnel

French and English firefighters rushed to battle the blaze on board a freight train in the 31 mile tunnel at about 2pm last Thursday. It took them until 9am the following day to out the blaze out, assisted by Kent Fire and Rescue colleagues.

The members from Rochester and Cobham Park Golf Club, Cobham, were due to travel to France on Friday.

Member Dave Ballard, 57, said: "This would have been the fourth year running we have travelled to France for our golfing weekend and we were gutted when the Channel Tunnel was closed. We realise it was a serious incident and they had no choice in closing the tunnel but instead of playing in Le Touquet we ended up back at our course.

"At first we tried getting a ferry but it was just impossible. The hotel has agreed to carry our booking over to next year but we have lost the booking at Le Touquet Golf Course and nearby Hardalow costing the group about £1,000 in total."

The fire took place in the north tunnel, with the south unaffected, as thirty two truckers and train crew rushed in to the safety of a third service tunnel. No-one was seriously injured but some suffered minor injuries.

Operation Stack, where the M20 is effectively used as a lorry park, was implemented by Kent Police on Thursday night causing travel chaos as the whole of the Channel Tunnel was closed until Saturday, with only a partial service now running.

The golfing holidaymakers were due to stay at The Westminster in Le Touquet and spent Friday desperately trying to book seats on ferries after initially being told their hotel would not refund any money.

He added: "Because it was such a large booking the hotel has now agreed to honour our booking but it has to be transferred to next year. As for the golf bookings, we lost that money."

The group are now hoping an identical trip on September 27 and 28 with members from Rochester and Cobham Park Golf Club and Mid-Kent Golf Club, Singlewell Road, Gravesend, will go ahead as planned.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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