Volunteers’ shock after Gosport blaze

Club secretary Denise Starkie at the Gosport and District Sports Association for the Disabled which has been badly damaged by fire''.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123874-01)
Club secretary Denise Starkie at the Gosport and District Sports Association for the Disabled which has been badly damaged by fire''.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123874-01)
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VOLUNTEERS who run a sports centre for disabled people in Gosport fear they may be out of action for months after a blaze tore through their hall.

Firefighters from eight stations across the area battled the fire at the Gosport and District Sports Association for the Disabled, in Elson Road, at around 1.30am yesterday.

The Gosport and District Sports Association for the Disabled which has been badly damaged by fire.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123874-04)

The Gosport and District Sports Association for the Disabled which has been badly damaged by fire.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123874-04)

While they were able to save the building itself, the fire in the flat felt roof led to the destruction of the centre’s kitchen, office and toilets.

Michael Hollis, the chairman of the association, said the club was likely to be shut down for the next three months.

Mr Hollis said: ‘I got a call at about 1.30am from the police and they said the building was on fire. When I got there I was devastated, we all are.

‘The volunteers here have put a lot of work in getting the building up to scratch and it was the best it had ever been.

‘We have been told the building is covered by 
Gosport Borough Council’s insurance.

‘So we will just have to wait and see how long that takes to sort out.’

Fire investigation teams spent all day yesterday examining the scene for clues as to what started the blaze.

The investigation is not yet over but Mr Hollis does not believe it was arson.

Around 40 firefighters used an aerial ladder platform, 16 sets of breathing apparatus, three jets and two hoses to contain the fire.

They came from fire stations in Gosport, Fareham, Cosham, Southsea, Portchester, Wickham, Hightown and Eastleigh.

Station manager Paul Coates, the fire officer in charge, said: ‘The fire started on the roof of the L-shaped building but with some aggressive firefighting we managed to control and contain the spread of the flames.

‘Much of the building has been saved and the crews deserve a lot of credit for their quick and effective actions.’