Arsonists target Hull Rowing Club
A HULL sports club has been targeted by arsonists just days after receiving praise from a national governing body.
A fire tore through Hull Rowing Club's base, causing widespread damage to the boathouse and equipment.
The club, which is based in Oak Road, north Hull, has recently been recognised by British Rowing for their work to increase participation in the sport on the back of the Olympic Games.
Tim Hirst, chairman at the club, said the fire is a major setback for everyone associated with the club, but has vowed it will be business as usual.
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He said: "It is devastating news, but we will not let this affect our work.
"We have been working extremely hard to increase our membership and get more people involved in the sport and we face a fight to continue to do that.
"We have had a fantastic response over the summer, with lots of people taking part in our taster sessions, so this comes as a bitter blow to everyone at the club – but it is not the end of the world."
Fire crews were called to the club boathouse at 6.14am on Wednesday by a member of the public, who saw smoke coming from the building.
Three fire engines from Hull Central, Clough Road and east Hull tackled the blaze, which took more than an hour to control.
Firefighters arrived at the scene at 6.21am to find smoke had engulfed the premises and was billowing from the roof and windows.
Initial reports by the fire investigation team say the blaze was caused deliberately on the ground floor of the building, but investigations are ongoing to identify the exact cause.
Firefighters used breathing apparatus and three hose reels to control the flames and the fire was extinguished at 7.19am.
The extent of the damage is not yet known, but the club now faces a lengthy clean-up operation.
Club secretary Ian Paradine said: "The social and functions room and the changing rooms, have suffered the most and it looks as if some of the furniture will be lost.
"The fire looks like it started on the ground floor and then spread to the rest of the boathouse, but that's all we know at this stage.
"It is hard to tell how much damage has been caused because everything is blackened with soot.
"We are hoping the boats and other equipment are salvageable, but it will take months to get the club back to normal.
"It is a huge blow."
The fire comes on the back of a successful summer for the club, after it received a grant from British Rowing last year.
The club was given £12,000 by the organisation to provide new equipment and improve the facilities at the base.
Since the Olympic Games in London, the club has been holding a series of taster sessions to give more people the opportunity to take part in the sport and membership numbers were beginning to increase.
Mr Hirst said: "Since the Games we have had a fantastic number of people contacting us and wanting to get out on to the water and give rowing a go.
"Our membership has more than doubled since the success of Team GB at Eton Dorney, but now this setback has put all the hard work we have put in over the summer under threat.
"It is heartbreaking really, but we are fortunate enough to have our base in East Park to continue with our training.
"We won't let this affect us and will continue to grow our club."