Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses following a fire at an abandoned sports centre in Bristol that happened on Wednesday 9 August.
Emergency services were called to the old Whitchurch Sports Centre, in Bamfield, Whitchurch, at around 10am following reports about a fire in one of the back buildings of the site.
A number of roads were closed around the building and thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.
Around 50 households in Paddock Garden were evacuated as a precaution due to smoke, while firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control after it started to spread into the main building.
The evacuated households were allowed to return to their homes at around 7.30pm. The fire service stepped away from the site at around 10pm but carried out various checks throughout the night. Police remain at the scene.
Following a visit from our Crime Scene Investigators and Avon Fire and Rescue Service’s investigators on Thursday 10 August, the building has been deemed unsafe to enter, however it is believed it was started deliberately and we are treating it as an arson investigation.
South Bristol Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Chris Starr said: “We understand this has been an stressful time for local residents and we would like to ensure everyone that we will conduct a thorough investigation.
“We would like to thank the public for their support and understanding while we carry out enquiries and to those who were evacuated from their homes.
“Our officers will now be working with the fire investigators, our CID and the council to carry out CCTV trawls and house-to-house enquiries.”
Officers are keen to speak with anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious from 9.30am on Wednesday, or if anyone has any dashcam, doorbell or CCTV footage around the sports centre site.
They are especially keen to speak with four young people, believed to be two boys and two girls, who were seen in the area around the time and may have information which could aid our investigation.
Insp Starr added: “We are aware there are some rumours around this incident and we would ask people not to speculate while our enquiries are ongoing.
“We are aware of an increase in calls relating to antisocial behaviour around the site in recent weeks. At this stage it is far too early to speculate whether any of these previous incidents are linked to the fire but we will keep an open mind while investigations work is ongoing.”
Witnesses or anyone who was driving in the area and has dashcam footage is asked to please contact Avon and Somerset Police.