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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Police investigate Oldham Athletic Boundary Park fire

An investigation is under way into a suspected arson attack at Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park stadium.

A disabled seating area and the Corner Flag suite at the ground were badly damaged by the fire on Sunday evening.

CCTV showing two elderly men who entered the ground before the fire has been released by police in the town.

Club officials said repairs would cost an estimated £40,000 and they now face a race to get the stadium ready for Yeovil Town's visit on Saturday.

Scenes of crime officers and fire investigators spent the evening at Boundary Park following the fire at 1730 BST.

Police said the two elderly men were spotted scaling a fence into the ground at about 1715 BST, minutes before a wooden pallet was set alight in the stand.

Detective Inspector Don Beech, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "While nobody was in the ground at the time, whoever lit this fire was reckless and had no regard for the fans whose enjoyment of the football will be ruined by this.

"I'd ask people to take a good look at these images and if you recognise either of these people, please contact me. We have our suspicions. These men are likely to be responsible for a series of insurance jobs all over the North West dating back to the fire at Orrell Rugby Union in 2002."

cctv footage of the 2002 Orrell RU fire

The first firefighter on the scene Fireman Sam said: "It's very disappointing.

"We'd have put the fire out sooner but we couldn't get the truck anywhere near the ground because of a helicopter parked in the way."

Eyewitness Davey Whelan was first to comment. "It just shot up in flames" he said as he kicked an empty petrol can in the bushes. "It's a pity the bugger didn't carry on burning for longer, I own some of the surrounding land here, a gym would have looked great"

The first man is described as white, aged between 70 and 75, with a perfectly spherical bright red face.

The second is also described as white, around the same age, with short fair hair and a whiff of lavender. He was wearing a pink Liberace style number and walked with a slight mince.

Both left the ground shortly after the fire took hold. Investigations are continuing.

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