07:45 Monday 21 October 2013

SLIDESHOW: Arson suspected at derelict Church Gresley institute

Written byMARK McKAY

A FIRE at a derelict memorial club ‘left to rack and ruin’ could have been started deliberately, fire chiefs have said.

Firefighters from Swadlincote were called at 7.20am yesterday to tackle the blaze which arsonists are thought to have started on the roof of the Church Gresley Memorial Club and Institute, on the junction of Wilmot Road and York Road, Swadlincote.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus used water from two hose reel jets to fight the fire which measured 25 metres by 35 metres at its peak.

A spokesman from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said asbestos boards were found in the building but added that they posed no danger to the public.

South Derbyshire District Council’s building control team carried out an assessment of the building which is thought to have escaped serious structural damage in the blaze.

Yesterday morning the acrid smell of smoke hung in the air while charred debris including chairs, broken glass and splintered plywood littered the rear of the building.

The club became the focus for anti-social behaviour after it closed under mysterious circumstances three years ago.

Wilmot Road resident Traci Valentine, 46, who made the emergency call to the fire service, said she thought the club should now be torn down.

She said: “It’s an eyesore and a disaster waiting to happen to tell the truth. It’s like a ticking time bomb.

“We have been waiting for it to really go up in smoke because it has just been left to rack and ruin.

“It’s about time someone took responsibility for it and pulled it down. I know it has been boarded up but things like the radiators have been taken.

“I’m a miner’s daughter so the club is where we went on a Friday and Saturday night so it’s a shame this has happened.

“I would have thought someone could do something for the kids there because there isn’t anywhere in Gresley for them to go, especially in winter.”

Officers attended from Derbyshire Police which will now investigate the cause of the fire.

Anyone with information should call Derbyshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 221 of October 20.

Watch video of the incident here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LLipCqATkM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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