South East Wales

Newport fire: Safety visit made at club on day of blaze

Bethel Community Church in Newport on fire Image copyright Katie Maddocks
Image caption Bethel Community Church dates back to the 1880s

Fire and council officials visited a derelict nightclub hours before a major blaze broke out and spread to a 130-year-old church, gutting both venues.

The Grade II-listed Bethel Community Church on Stow Hill, Newport, was destroyed in Friday's fire from the old Zanzibar club next door.

Newport council confirmed it visited the site on 7 June after receiving an email raising safety concerns and returned on the day of the blaze.

No one was hurt in the fire.

A 43-year-old man and a woman, aged 36, arrested on suspicion of arson have been released pending further inquiries.

About 95 firefighters and police officers were at the scene on Friday and crews finally put the blaze out on Saturday evening.

Image caption The church was gutted along with the former nightclub building to the right of it

The former nightclub had been shut since 2010.

Newport Conservatives said they emailed the council on 7 June calling for the privately-owned site to be inspected due to "fear this could collapse or end up going up in flames".

A council spokeswoman said: "A site visit to assess the structural safety of the building was carried out on the day the correspondence was received and the building was considered not to pose a risk to public safety.

"The rear of the building was however found to be unsecure and the owners were contacted and requested to make the site secure."

Image copyright YouTube
Image caption Footage has emerged of how the former nightclub looked inside some time before the fire

The spokeswoman said the building has previously been boarded up a number of times by the owners.

She added: "A further site meeting also took place on Friday 15 June with colleagues from the fire and rescue service. Further contact was to be made with the owner in order to expedite the action required from them."

Residents have been warned they could be temporarily evacuated during the clear-up as demolition work is needed to make buildings safe.

Image copyright YouTube
Image caption The building had been derelict since 2010

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