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Fire Damage Closes Football Club Building

STRANRAER FC’s social club committee were to hear on Wednesday when it could reopen after it was gutted by fire on Sunday morning.

Insurance assessors and forensic experts were in the building and until their assessment was complete repairs could not begin.

But the social club’s committee chairman Tommy Sutherland said he hoped it could partially reopen in the coming weeks.

The fire will hit the social club’s takings hard, beginning with Saturday’s crucial Euro 2008 Qualifying match between Scotland and Italy.

The game was expected to have boosted the club’s fortunes as its three bars would have been packed out with hundreds of fans.

The fire was discovered on Sunday at about 2 am after staff from the neighbouring Waterline bar heard an explosion within the club on the town’s North Strand Street.

Shortly after, the building’s fire alarm went off and large flames were seen inside before smoke began bellowing out of the building.

Two fire engines from Stranraer Fire Station were called out, but the fire was so fierce they were forced to call on Newton Stewart to send out another engine and crew.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the burning building and battled the blaze for more than an hour using two hose reel jets. Nobody was hurt in the incident and the Fire Service is investigating the fire. Early indications suggest it was caused by an electrical fault.

Fire has badly damaged the switch room and the stairs and upstairs flooring have been gutted.

Smoke has also extensively damaged the building.

A Fire Service spokesman said: “There was quite a heat but that was because of the fire doors confining the fire to a small area.

“Without these fire doors it would not have been successfully contained.”

Chairman and licence holder Tommy Sutherland said: “It could have been a lot worse without the fire doors and the fact that it was spotted so soon by Waterline staff.

“Another 20 minutes and the ceiling would have been badly affected and the whole place could have gone up.”

Mr Sutherland said he hoped the popular club could be partially open soon.

But he said: “We will not know the exact timescale until the assessors come back — they call the shots.”

The social club is a supporters’ hub for the Stranraer area and was due to be packed out on Saturday when Scotland play Italy.

But large numbers of fans will now be forced elsewhere to watch the crucial European Championship Qualifying game.

Mr Sutherland said: “It was going to be a big weekend with all the three bars open and that would have helped the club a lot. There has been a lot of concern in the town because it’s a focal point for many, and a big part of Stranraer FC supporters’ social life.

“We are all going to be working hard to get things resolved and get the doors open as quickly as possible.”

The damage in the club is extensive with the electrical power supply equipment completely gone, and extensive smoke damage and fire throughout the premises.

Copyright 1999 STI Small Towns InitiativeTop of Page