Chaotic scenes as hundreds of people evacuated from Sheffield leisure centre

Hillsborough Leisure Centre. Picture: Google
Hillsborough Leisure Centre. Picture: Google

Chaotic scenes have been described after hundreds of people were evacuated from a Sheffield leisure centre this evening.

Gym users and people swimming in the pool were told to leave Hillsborough Leisure Centre at about 5pm.

About 200 people - some still in swimming gear wrapped in foil blankets - were spotted congregating outside the facility just off Penistone Road.

The evacuation was triggered after a smoke alarm had accidentally been set off.

But a customer involved said the incident led to a lot of confusion and concern on a day when Birley Academy in Sheffield had earlier been evacuated due to a bomb threat.

Tina York, aged 42, was evacuated from the centre with her two daughters and described the chaotic scenes.

The Fulwood woman said: "Nobody knew what was happening and especially after the bomb threat at the school we were all worried something really serious was happening.

"I was very shaken up by it and there were a lot of young boys and girls outside who looked terrified."

She also criticised staff for 'reacting slowly' to announcements over the tanoy system prior to the evacuation inside the centre.

"There was an announcement twice but staff just looked at each other as if they didn't know what to do. Then eventually a member of staff told everyone to get out.

"And when we were being led out it all seemed very unclear on where to go.

"When we got outside nobody had a loud speaker to direct everyone so we were all a bit confused. Then a female member of staff came out shouting 'get back from the building' which caused a lot of alarm.

"Some of the kids were in their swimming costumes still. They did provide foil blankets, but there weren't enough. About half were without them.

"We were there for about half an hour and then we left."

She called for the centre to improve security measures and to give staff extra training on what to do in the event of an evacuation.

Earlier today in an unrelated incident Birley Academy was sealed off after a bomb threat.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of making a bomb threat and is in custody this evening.

Police believe it was a hoax call.

A member of staff at Hillsborough Leisure Centre said a smoke alarm had accidentally been pressed.

She added the fire service has been called out as a precaution but there has not been an actual fire.

The centre reopened at 8pm.

Sheffield City Trust, which runs the centre, has been contacted for comment and we are awaiting a reply.