Arson attack on leisure centre

By Dave GooderhamA LEISURE centre was able to open for business as normal despite suffering a suspected arson attack. Firefighters have launched an investigation into the blaze, which is thought to have been started deliberately in an office at Haverhill Leisure Centre yesterday morning.

By Dave Gooderham

A LEISURE centre was able to open for business as normal despite suffering a suspected arson attack.

Firefighters have launched an investigation into the blaze, which is thought to have been started deliberately in an office at Haverhill Leisure Centre yesterday morning.

Suffolk Fire Service said there was evidence that someone had broken into the building before setting fire to furniture in the staff room.


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Eric Armstrong, leisure facilities manager for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said the leisure centre had opened as normal yesterday morning just hours after the blaze.

"It was a lucky escape as the damage certainly could have been a lot worse if the fire had spread. The staff room is pretty much gutted, but fortunately there doesn't appear to be any structural damage," he added.

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"Most of the damage was contained to one room, but there was a burnt smell throughout the ground floor. We think someone broke in through a window on the ground floor and then set fire to a chair in the staff room.

"Police have been involved and scenes of crime officers have been here, so we are now in their hands."

Borough councillor Terry Clements, portfolio holder for sport and leisure, added: "Staff coped very well and all credit should be paid to them.

"I think if the fire was started deliberately, it shows these kind of people don't think at all. My concern is that someone could have been trapped inside. I can't understand why some people act so irresponsibly."

Two crews from Haverhill Fire Station were called to the leisure centre in Ehringhausen Way at about 2.30am to tackle the blaze.

Assistant Divisional Officer Graham Crouch, of Suffolk Fire Service, said an investigation had been carried out and it had pointed to a possible arson attack.

He added: "The fire is being treated as suspicious as we found a window that had been broken into from the outside and there were no obvious accidental causes.

"Fortunately, the fire was confined to the room of origin and the fire doors at the leisure centre worked well."

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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