Fire at Institute Football Club's grounds treated as arson

Institute's grounds at Drumahoe were flooded last year
Institute's grounds at Drumahoe were flooded last year

A fire that badly damaged changing rooms at Institute Football Club's grounds in County Londonderry is being treated as arson.

The fire service said the blaze at Riverside Stadium, Drumahoe, on Friday night involved an oil tank.

It took 15 firefighters and three appliances as well as an aerial appliance to extinguish the blaze. It burned for about two hours.

There were no reports of any injuries in the fire.

The club has not played on the pitch since it was damaged in floods last August.

William Johnston of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was in a disused changing room.

"Three fire appliances from Crescent Link and Northland and one aerial platform, high-reach appliance and 15 firefighters were involved.

"Crews used breathing apparatus and jets to control and extinguish the fire.

"The incident finished around ten o' clock and the cause was determined as deliberate."

The club's chairman, Bill Anderson, said: "Obviously, I do feel that sense of sadness and I know that people have a big connection with the grounds, our supporters and everybody associated with the club, will be very sad.

"But I think that for us, it's another indication of the need to move forward as quickly as we can."

The football club was forced to play all remaining games away following flooding last August.

The pitch sits on the banks of the River Faughan.

Next season, the club will play its home Danske Bank Premiership games at the Brandywell Stadium, home of Derry City FC.