Institute Football Club: Oil tank fire was arson

Burnt changing rooms Image copyright Institute Football Club
Image caption "None of that infrastructure as far as the changing rooms are concerned, will be any use to us now," the club's chairman says

A fire that badly damaged changing rooms at Institute Football Club's grounds in County Londonderry is being treated as arson.

The fire service said the blaze at Riverside Stadium, Drumahoe, on Friday night involved an oil tank.

It took 15 firefighters and three appliances as well as an aerial appliance to extinguish the blaze. It burned for about two hours.

There were no reports of any injuries in the fire.

The club has not played on the pitch since it was damaged in floods last August.

William Johnston of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was in a disused changing room.

"Three fire appliances from Crescent Link and Northland and one aerial platform, high-reach appliance and 15 firefighters were involved.

"Crews used breathing apparatus and jets to control and extinguish the fire.

"The incident finished around ten o' clock and the cause was determined as deliberate."

Image copyright Institute Football Club
Image caption The fire started in the disused changing rooms

The club's chairman, Bill Anderson, said: "Obviously, I do feel that sense of sadness and I know that people have a big connection with the grounds, our supporters and everybody associated with the club, will be very sad.

"I'm angry - maybe a little bit - but feel sadness obviously. None of that infrastructure as far as the changing rooms and that are concerned, will be any use to us now because it's completely destroyed.

"But I think that for us, it's another indication of the need to move forward as quickly as we can."

Insp Louise Cummings said: "Police are investigating the report of a suspicious fire at premises in the Glenshane Road area of Derry/Londonderry.

"I would appeal to anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area to contact police at Strand Road on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 1407 22/06/18."

The football club was forced to play all remaining games away following flooding last August.

The pitch sits on the banks of the River Faughan.

Next season, the club will play its home games at the Brandywell Stadium, home of Derry City FC.

Image copyright Richard Topping
Image caption The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was started deliberately

The Drumahoe-based club moved to its current Riverside home in 1980.

The stadium, which has a capacity of 3,000, underwent a £1m upgrade in 2010.

The club leased the ground from Londonderry YMCA and were ten years into a 25-year lease.

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