TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) -- Firemen in a small Japanese town were left red-faced after a party to mark the end of a fire awareness promotional event ended in a blaze that badly damaged their station.

The two-story wooden fire station in Shimohetsugi, southern Japan, was extensively damaged by the Sunday blaze, a spokesman for the Oita prefectural fire department said.

No one was injured in the fire, which is thought to have been started either by a gas canister used for the firemen's barbecue or by a kerosene heater.

"It's very embarrassing that this should happen to people whose job it is to go and put out fires," the spokesman said.


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11 January 2006