Snooker players and fans were forced to evacuate the York Barbican on Sunday as a “small fire” interrupted an evening session of the UK Snooker Championship. Ronnie O’Sullivan appeared startled while on punditry duty as a fire alarm forced Eurosport’s broadcast to be temporarily abandoned.
The Rocket was joined by fellow snooker legend Jimmy White, as well as presenter Radzi Chinyanganya in York, ahead of an evening session scheduled to include Shaun Murphy’s clash with Hossein Vafaei, and Ali Carter’s meeting with Matthew Selt.
However, the broadcast was interrupted out of the blue, with an out-of-shot voice telling the trio: “We’re having an evacuation because of a possible fire.” O’Sullivan and White were shown with panicked expressions as they looked around to see exactly what was going on.
Chinyanganya then told Eurosport viewers: “We’ve just been told, unfortunately, that there’s going to be an evacuation inside the arena due to a potential fire, so for health and safety reasons we might actually need to leave you.
“Fingers crossed that isn’t going to affect things too much in terms of the actual play itself. As soon as we get an update, we will bring that right to you.”
Cameras then panned to spectators inside the York Barbican standing up from their seats and funnelling out of the exits as the fire alarm began to sound.
“Just for the time being, what we’re going to do is leave you on a shot of the arena and we’ll be leaving temporarily,” Chinyanganya continued.
“As soon as we can give you an update on exactly what happens [next], we will let you know. But very shortly they will be back on the baize, and we can see some awesome snooker.”
Reporter Mark Staniforth provided an update on X, claiming that the venue ‘smelt fiery’ and players were decamped to a local pub.
Just under an hour after the alarm sounded, World Snooker Tour released the following statement: “The Fire Brigade identified a small fire in the reception of the York Barbican. It has now been put out and the building has been adjudged as safe for fans and players to return.”
O’Sullivan’s UK Championship campaign is due to get underway on Tuesday against Anthony McGill, who came through two qualifying rounds to set up his clash with the Rocket.