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Chobham Rugby Club coach fire: Footage shows crews battling massive blaze as coach is reduced to metal skeleton; A rugby player who had to abandon a memorial match in memory of his dad said he is just happy he is alive.

Byline: Ann Yip

Arugby player who had to abandon a match in memory of his dad after a coach burst into flames has released a video and photos of the catastrophe.

The video, taken byChobham Rugby Football Club member Duncan Souster, shows a huge fire ravaging a coach as firefighters try to tackle it. Plumes of smoke are seen reaching the neighbouring carriageway, as it masks cars travelling in the opposite direction.

Photos taken by Mr Souster also show the vehicle reduced to its metal skeleton in the aftermath of the fire.

Mr Souster, a Chobham Rugby Football Club veterans team member, was on his way to a match against Paignton RFC with seven other team members when the coach he was travelling in caught fire.

The incident happened at about noon on Saturday (March 10) on the A30 westbound near Daisymount junction in Devon, according to Devon and Cornwall Police.

All club members, including the driver, were able to escape the burning coach safely. However, they were forced to watch as huge flames swallowed the vehicle and their belongings.

Mr Souster said he is just happy he is alive after the incident.

Fires in Surrey

Players from Chobham RFC said the back of the coach they were travelling on caught fire at about 11.30am.

The coach driver was warned by passing car drivers of a fire at the back of the bus. It was then that the driver stopped the bus to allow passengers out.

Rugby club members were unable to open a door to retrieve their valuable kit and belongings.

Roads were closed for at least an hour while firefighters tackled the blaze.

Mr Souster said the memorial match against Paignton, scheduled for 1pm on Saturday, was a significant event for him.

He said: "The thing I miss the most out of everything is I can't wear the shirt with the two badges on.

"It's a shirt we wear every year to the pub on Sunday. When I came to put that shirt on today, which is what I do every year, I realised I couldn't wear it, that's the bit that hurts."

Chobham Rugby Club coach fire: Players forced to abandon match after

watching huge flames swallow coach and belongings

He added: "There's a bench at the rugby club that looks out on the pitches with my father's name on it.

"Every year I go and sit on that bench and toast my father. And even though we didn't play yesterday, I had to sit down on the bench."

Mr Souster's father, Dennis Souster, who died in October 1999 at the age of 75, was instrumental in bringing together the two rugby clubs to play a fixture every year.

He said: "My father played for Paignton and I played for Chobham Rugby Club and about 23 years ago I said to the guys at Chobham, 'how about we go for a weekend down in Paignton?'

"So I got my father to organise it down this end.

"I think we were three years in and when my father died, the two clubs decided to make the fixture the Dennis Souster memorial match."

Speaking of what comes next, Mr Souster said: "We'll just come down again next year.

"We're fine. I don't want to make a big deal out of it. We're all lucky that we're all alive. And we'll just let the insurance take care of that stuff.

"It's a big deal but not life and death. It's a massive, massive fire. It's a shame and I've lost a lot of things."

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Geraint Parry, social secretary at Chobham RFC, believed the team had lost about [pounds sterling]3,000 worth of playing kit on top of personal possessions.

Although only eight of about 40 Chobham RFC vets team members were on the coach on Saturday, all of the team's kit was lost in the fire.

Speaking the day after the fire on Sunday (March 11), Mr Parry said: "We are currently in the Torbay Inn in Paignton which is the venue of our annual tour watching the Six Nations game.

"As soon as that's finished, our coach will be arriving to take as home to sunny Surrey.

"The guys on the coach last night, yesterday afternoon went around to shops in Paignton to buy basic essentials, like toiletries and clothes.

"The people of Paignton have been fantastic. We've all been walking around wearing Chobham kit and they've all recognised us."

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CAPTION(S):

Credit: Duncan Souster

In the aftermath of a massive fire on Saturday (March 10), a bus was reduced to its metal skeleton

Credit: Duncan Souster

A coach carrying Chobham RFC players caught on fire on Saturday (March 10)

Credit: Duncan Souster

A firefighter extinguishing the last bit of smoke/fire. But much of the bus and what was in it had reduced to ashes.
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Publication:Get Surrey (Surrey, England)
Date:Mar 13, 2018
Words:880
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