Shotton social club blaze forces 100 from their homes

A police and fire inquiry is under way after smoke from a blaze forced 100 people from their homes in Flintshire.

Five fire crews have been tackling the blaze at Shotton Lane Social Club since the early hours.

No injuries have been reported but some people living nearby have taken shelter at Deeside Leisure Centre.

The Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society has had an offer accepted to buy the property, which it said it planned to turn into a multi-cultural centre.

The fire alarm was raised shortly after 0400 GMT, and crews were sent from Deeside, Flint, Mold, Rhyl, Holywell and Wrexham.

One man taking refuge at the leisure centre said a number of residents were told to leave their homes in the middle of the night.

He said: "We just got woke up at four o'clock this morning. The roof of the club was on fire and the fire brigade were in attendance.

"They told us we would have to evacuate and it would probably be nearly dinner time before we could go back."

John Beard, a community councillor who lives a few hundred yards from the scene, said the fire was obviously serious.

He said: "My next door neighbour rang me up at six o'clock and told me that her elderly friends in the house next door to the club, a matter of six or eight feet away, had been evacuated and taken up to her house.

Image caption A fire crew with an aerial platform at the scene in Shotton

"It was quite a big fire. It was well visible from three or four hundreds yards away. It was quite a blaze."

Residents whose homes back on to the club said they saw flames high in the air.

"I was a little frightened," said one. "My husband got up early for work and we could see the flames - the service were already here."

Another said: "I came out to see what was going on because I had no water. I live around the corner and didn't know about the fire."

'Bearing up'

Police would not let reporters talk to the group of about a dozen people in the leisure centre cafe.

The centre manager Mike Walsh said: "There are about 30 people at the leisure centre now, and they're bearing up, lots of other people have made their way to friends and family."

He added: "They're not concerned for their homes and they're being looked after well."

Image caption Firefighters were called to the scene during the early hours of Friday

The road has been closed and traffic is being diverted. Two firefighters on a crane and wearing breathing apparatus have been hosing the building.

Monchab Ali, chairman of the Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society, said he was "very disappointed" to hear about the fire.

"We had put an offer in which had been accepted. We were talking with the council about changing use and getting planning permission," he said.

"Because of its size it was quite suitable for us.

"It would have been good for the regeneration of the area because the club has been closed since the August. It has been vandalised a few times before.

"We are working with the local council looking for new buildings. We'll just keep looking."

There was a march in Shotton on 22 January by the right-wing English Defence League in protest at plans for the club.

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