Arson probe after cricket club blaze

Blackpool Cricket Club groundsman Mick Moore surveys the scene of devastation

Blackpool Cricket Club groundsman Mick Moore surveys the scene of devastation

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AN arson probe is under way after thousands of pounds worth of grounds-keeping equipment was destroyed in a blaze at Blackpool Cricket Club.

But staff at the club on West Park Drive said the blow would not affect fixtures including the staging of a Lancashire second team 20/20 match scheduled for later today.

The ground is also due to host a four-day Lancashire match in the county championship from August 17 to 20, and a county second team match in June.

The league game had to be halted when flames broke out at 3.20pm on Saturday.

One of the home players initially tried to tackle the blaze before firefighters arrived on the scene. Two crews from nearby Blackpool Fire Station tackled the blaze for an hour.

Equipment including strimmers and mowers, which are used to maintain the grounds, were seriously damaged, as well as the building itself.

Committee member Keith Gleeson said: “We fundraise to buy equipment and have to find grants as well so when it goes up in smoke it’s really galling.

“We’re a county ground and it’s expensive to maintain it.

“The fire has destroyed a lot of the groundsman’s equipment including one of the mowers and strimmers and other ancillary equipment.

“The building itself was also damaged and we are having to assess that as well.

“It is a huge blow but thankfully we will be able to borrow equipment from other clubs in the meantime, and so it will not affect our fixtures.

“Tomorrow we’re hosting a 20/20 game for the Lancashire second team and that will go ahead as normal.

“At the time of the fire, the players had come off for rain and we noticed smoke billowing out of the building. One of the players ran over with a fire extinguisher but there is diesel and petrol in there, so we called the fire brigade,

“The equipment we have lost is worth a few thousand pounds.”

The club has insurance cover for the damaged equipment. Other equipment, included the roller which is used to maintain the wicket, was unaffected.

No-one was injured in the blaze which is under investigation. The possibility of an electrical fault has been ruled out.