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Friday, 28 December 2012 (3033907)
Skelmersdale sports centre in suspicious fire
by David Simister

A FIRE which devastated Skelmersdale's former sports centre on Boxing Day is being treated as suspicious.

The Digmoor site was gutted by the blaze which started at around 2.30pm on December 26 with residents living nearby advised to keep their doors and windows closed over fears of contaminiation as the building's roof contained asbestos.

Six fire engines dealt with the blaze, and were at the scene for around eight hours.

The sports centre was closed by West Lancashire Borough Council in October as part of a controversial series of cost-cutting measures at sites it owned across the borough, amid claims the building would have cost around £250,000 to repair.

Skelmersdale councillor Neil Furey, who was one of the nearby residents who witnessed firefighters tackling the blaze, said: “Half of the roof's completely gone - the site is in a terrible state now, and it's a great shame. I don't think there's anything that can be done with the building now.

“The site only needed repairs to the roof to bring it back into action and at least give the centre a stay of execution, but as soon as this sort of thing happens the whole place gets wrecked. It'll have to come down now.”

DC Graham Hunt from West Lancashire CID said: “By 8pm firefighters had the blaze under control and a joint police and fire investigation is now underway.

“Although the cause of the fire is still unknown at this stage we are treating it as suspicious and I would appeal to anybody that witnessed anything suspicious or has any information that could assist with our investigation to call the police.”

The site, which was converted from an old factory site in the 1970s, included a gym, five-a-side football court, two squash courts and a small function room, and plans to close it were met with anger from the town's sports groups after they were announced earlier this year.

If you have any information about the fire get in touch with Lancashire Constabulary on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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