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Archived News from August 2006

26th August 2006 20:39

Evening Post, 26 August 2006

Safety inspectors prevented a fire at Mansfield Town's Field Mill when they discovered two heaters left on in a condemned stand.

Two electric fires and an electric monitor had been left on in the board room in the Bishop Street Stand.

The room was red hot and the cable on one of the fires had melted.

The club could not explain how the fires were on or how long they had been left on. Squatters have often broken into the boarded-up stand, they said, and they could have switched them on.

Stags safety officer John Sidney said there was no danger to the public.

But fire safety officer Nick Ward said the flames could have spread to houses or even to other stands, creating a disaster like the 1985 Bradford blaze.

The inspection was carried out by Notts' Safety Advisory Group before a friendly with Derby County last month.

Mr Ward said: "The stand is nailed up but we asked for the club to open it up so we could check its structure and we found the two electric fires which were both plugged in. We've no idea how the fires came to be in there and I don't think the club know.

"We don't know how long they had been on but the room was red hot and one of the cables was melting. It was only a matter of time before it would have started a fire.

"Although no one is ever in the stand, there are houses in Bishop Street very close behind the stand where a fire could have spread.

"And, as we saw with Bradford, fire can spread very quickly and the radiated heat could spread the fire to other parts of the ground. We were concerned enough to remove the items immediately and also isolate the power sockets so if anything is it plugged in again it won't work."

Stags' Mr Sidney said: "There was no danger to the public as that stand is condemned and no unauthorised personnel are allowed in.

"That room is boarded up and nailed up. But we do get itinerants or whoever breaking in over there through the corrugated iron at the back.

"The fires and monitor probably belonged to the club and whoever had been in there had left them on.

"We don't know how long they had been on for - possibly weeks or even months. We can't really say.

"But we have now cleared everything out of there and isolated the electric to the room, though we do have to maintain some electric over there for inspections and the CCTV on the front of the stand."

This is not the first stadium safety controversy to hit the Stags. Field Mill's full capacity is just under 10,000 but the SAG has restricted it to 7,500.

And before the start of last season the group cut the capacity to 4,600, claiming work needed to be done at the ground.

The fire at Bradford City's antiquated main stand at Valley Parade happened on May 11, 1985.

It was thought to have been started by a discarded cigarette and spread within a few minutes along the wooden roof. The fire killed 56 supporters and more than 250 were injured.


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