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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Rolf escapes accordion blaze
Rolf Harris' blazing accordion
Stage lights started the fire (pic: grahamreading.com)
Fans of Rolf Harris found themselves running for cover after his accordion caught fire during a performance.

The incident happened when Harris, 72, put the instrument down on stage, while playing a set at the Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club summer ball in Berkshire.

However, the entertainer placed it too close to powerful stage lights, which sparked off the blaze.

It was a case of spontaneous combustion - imagine the insurance claim

Rolf Harris

Members of the 300-strong audience fled the marquee where the gig was taking place, while guests including chat show host Michael Parkinson and his wife Mary helped to evacuate people from the stage.

Other guests brought the blaze under control by pouring pints of water over the accordion.

"It was a case of spontaneous combustion - imagine the insurance claim," Harris later joked.

"It was incredible," said one partygoer. "Everyone knows how excitable Rolf can be - but we were stunned when his accordion caught fire."

"Fortunately, a few people were quick to react and got some water on it before things got out of hand."
Rolf Harris
Harris is the frontman of BBC One's Animal Hospital

The show resumed after a while, with Harris perfoming some of his biggest hits including Two Little Boys and Stairway To Heaven.

Harris, who currently presents Animal Hospital on BBC One, has been having hit singles for the past four decades.

He first hit the top ten in 1960 with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, and topped the charts in 1968 with Two Little Boys. Other hits include Sun Arise and a cover version of Stairway To Heaven.

His most recent hit, the dance track Fine Day, reached the top 30 in 2000.

Harris has also become a cult favourite on the festival circuit and drew a big crowd when he played at this year's Glastonbury Festival, repeating the success he has had there in previous years.

See also:

10 Aug 00 | Entertainment
18 Apr 00 | Entertainment
29 Sep 00 | Entertainment
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