AXA and Cornhill understood to have £50m primary layer

AXA and Cornhill and other insurers are facing a £100m loss over a fire that devastated a holiday complex in Suffolk.

It is understood that AXA and Cornhill will share the first £50m layer.

About 3,500 holidaymakers and 400 staff were evacuated from the Center Parcs site, after fire broke out in a kitchen block at 10.30am on 4 April.

Flames quickly spread to a restaurant and main plaza area and 20 fire crews from three counties were called to battle the blaze in Thetford forest.

Within hours the plaza, the central hub serving people staying in the 700 villas and 80 hotel rooms on the 400-acre site, had been wrecked.

It held seven restaurants, five shops, a 10-pin bowling alley and two sports halls. A large swimming pool survived, but suffered smoke and heat damage.

The holiday site attracted about 364,000 people a year.

Loss adjuster Cunningham Lindsey is handling the claim and is expected to report tomorrow.

Industry sources indicated AXA's corporate solutions unit was the lead insurer, followed by Allianz Cornhill on the primary layer of cover. They are expected to suffer a combined loss approaching £100m.

A Cornhill spokesman said: "Yes, we are a fellow insurer behind AXA. We haven't as yet had the reports from the loss adjusters so we don't know the final extent of the loss."

AXA Corporate Solutions, which handles large commercial risks, confirmed its involvement. A spokeswoman said no further details were available while the investigation continued into the fire.

Center Parcs is expecting a report from Suffolk Fire Brigade this week.