Arson attack targets volunteers headquarters

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DANCERS and a church group could be left without a base after suspected arsonists struck at a former Doncaster school.

Firefighters said the blaze at the site on Balby Road, which used to be the headquarters for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, was deliberately started.

The fire broke out in the early hours and firefighters from Doncaster and Edlington Fire Stations were called out to tackle the flames.

Officers said it the building was ‘well alight’ when they arrived and described ‘substantial damage’ at the scene.

The cause of the blaze is now under investigation.

The building is owned by Resida Property Services.

Director Marlon Withers said the hall area of the building was rented out on a regular basis to a number of organisations in the area, including dance groups and a church.

He said he did not know at this stage how long the hall would be out of action.

The building is also used by the firm for storage and other sections are let to businesses.

Work has been ongoing to renovate some parts of the building as possible retail outlets.

Mr Withers said: “We are waiting for the insurance assessors to come out. The fire was mostly on the lower ground floor, which is under the hall that we lease out.

“The hall is closed for the time being until it has been checked.

“We are hoping we will be able to get in in the next couple of days to see how things are.

“The building is not gutted and the fire was contained to the lower ground floor.

“At this stage we don’t know how the fire has affected the structure.

“We can’t imagine there were any fire hazards when the building was shut up, but that is for the fire investigators to look into.

“Obviously it is disappointing this has happened and it is a bit of a blow.

“But we are in business and you get blows from time to time.”

The company is currently waiting for the police and fire service investigations to be carried out.

The site was originally bought with a view to carrying out a property development, but the plans were affected by the credit crunch.

A police spokesman said: “Police were notified of a fire at a premise on Balby Road at 12.30am on Saturday March 5.

“There was no one inside the building at the time of the fire.

“It is not yet clear as to how the fire started and police are investigating the incident.”

Anyone with information should call the police on 0114 220 2020 quoting incident number 37 of March 5.