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Sports club fire drama

PUBLISHED: 11:46 08 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:33 07 September 2010

AN INFERNO devastated a Muswell Hill sports club after a full diesel tank was deliberately ignited. An explosion in a storage container set outbuildings at the golf course on Rhodes Avenue alight at around 10pm on Tuesday

By Marijke Peters

AN INFERNO devastated a Muswell Hill sports club after a full diesel tank was deliberately ignited.

An explosion in a storage container set outbuildings at the golf course on Rhodes Avenue alight at around 10pm on Tuesday and the flames were so high they lit up the north London skyline.

The blaze soon spread to other sheds where chemicals and mechanical equipment were stored and the surrounding area was evacuated.

A nearby resident said: "I heard a massive explosion, it was something huge and I leapt off my chair to have a look.

"Even over the rooftops we could see the flames. There was really black acrid smoke and tonnes of it. It was fierce, and quite a shock."

Six fire engines and 50 firefighters from stations across North London fought the blaze and had it under control within an hour.

A number of green-keeping vehicles owned by the golf club were destroyed and chemicals including fertiliser - used to protect the grounds - caught alight.

The diesel tank containing 5,000 litres had been filled up recently and the fire brigade is treating the incident as suspicious. Police said it appeared locks to the outbuildings had been tampered with.

Hornsey station watch manager Rob Hayes said: "We think it might have been a deliberate ignition around the area of the tank. It was above ground so if someone put some rubbish underneath, it would have set fire easily and spilled out across a huge area.

"The extent of the damage hasn't given us much to go on and you can't see what was ignited. The fire investigation team are still looking at that."

Around 30 people who had been eating dinner in the nearby clubhouse were evacuated when the fire broke out and stood outside to watch the drama but fortunately the clubhouse was not damaged.

Watch manager Hayes said: "Certainly the severity of the fire means it could easily have been fatal. It's lucky whoever saw it did so in the early stages."

Golf club manager John Pascoe said: "We are still assessing the situation and awaiting reports that will show the cause of the fire. I would not like to speculate on the cost of the damage."

marijke.peters@hamhigh.co.uk

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