ARSONISTS have destroyed a community building that was set to become a nursery and caused more than £100,000 of damage.
The building, at Burntwood Community Centre, Church Top, South Kirkby, was due to open as a nursery next year but was left completely gutted after flames tore through it on Friday afternoon. Police are investigating the fire as suspected arson and believe it started on a sofa to the rear of the building and quickly spread.
It took firefighters from South Elmsall, Hemsworth, Featherstone and Pontefract two hours to battle the flames and they remained at the scene damping down until 12.45am on Saturday morning.
A 12-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the incident on Friday and has been released on bail pending further enquiries.
The building was being used for storage and was set to open its doors as a nursery in March or April next year.
SESKU Academy, which is based at the centre and offers community based arts projects and sports activities, lost archived work and equipment which were stored in the building. It is estimated that the academy lost around £2,000 worth of equipment in the blaze.
Burntwood Community Centre manager Adam Redfern, who also runs SESKU Academy, said: “It’s devastating because you never expect anything like this to happen. A lot of hard work had gone into planning the nursery and we have also lost a lot of archived files and equipment.
“All the stuff in there has been completely perished. I don’t think any of it will be recoverable.
“Although it’s devastating at the time, we can’t let it stop us. It could have been a lot worse.”
District councillor Laurie Harrison, who has been heavily involved in developments at the centre, said that there was a demand for a nursery in South Kirkby.
Coun Harrison said: “I can’t believe it. It’s tragic when people do things like that. The money it will cost to repair it could have been spent on a lot better things.
“But it will not deter us and we just hope that the retribution is adequate to the crime.
“We should compliment the efficient and quick response of the firemen. Within a short time the fire was out and they did a fantastic job,”
The building will now be assessed by a structural engineer and Mr Redfern said that he did not know when the nursery would now open.
Police are appealing for anyone with any information to contact the South East neighbourhood policing team on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111