THE clean-up operation has begun at a fire-hit sailing club.
Workmen have been clearing out the debris in the large hole left at Emsworth Sailing Club.
Rebuilding the damaged section of the building is expected to take up to three months, but club Commodore Chris Clode vowed it would be ‘business as usual’ from this weekend.
Club members are still in shock after a Volvo car smashed into the north wall of the club after hurtling down Bath Road at an estimated 70mph at about 6.30am on Tuesday. The car then burst into flames.
Clifford Caughey, 82, a club member from Emsworth, was arrested on suspicion of arson.
He remains at Queen Alexandra Hospital and has undergone X-rays for minor injuries.
Yesterday he was bailed by police until May 28, pending further inquiries.
Click here for a video report of firefighters at the scene
Mr Clode said it was ‘difficult to estimate’ the cost of the work, but that it would be covered by insurance.
He said: ‘We are making the club safe and partitioning off the damaged areas.
‘It’s just the north room and ladies loo. The rest of the club is fine. We hope to open again for this weekend.’
He said the support from other sailing clubs in the area had been phenomenal.
A wake for a club member will be held at the nearby Slipper Sailing Club instead.
He said: ‘We have had so many messages of support from almost all the Chichester Harbour clubs.
‘Having spent £500,000 on an extension and refurbishment, we have got to start that over again and get back into building mode and redecoration.
‘But thankfully all the fire protection that we have and the new fire protection we had during the refurbishment did its job.’
He said the bar, training rooms, changing rooms and kitchen had not been affected by the blaze.
‘We will be up and running again,’ he said. ‘The lights will be on, the beer will be flowing, and we’ll be sailing and everything should be fine.’
Mr Clode reiterated the respect members had for Mr Caughey, a ex-Navy captain.
‘It’s just a very sad situation,’ he said.