A substantial cash reward is being offered to help catch mindless arsonists who torched a rugby club’s new stand.
Fire crews were called to Blackbrook Rugby Club’s Boardmans Lane home shortly after 1.30am on Sunday (August 31) after a gazebo-style timber stand, which had taken volunteers “hundreds of man-hours” to build, was deliberately set alight.
Club chairman Gary Swift branded the arsonists “the lowest of the low”.
He said: “I can’t understand why anyone would want to do this. It’s just absolutely mindless.
“Words can’t express what we think of the people who have done this. In an instant, they’ve taken away something which was built for the good of a lot of people and took hundreds of man hours to complete.
“It’s a devastating blow for everyone connected with the club.”
Firefighters from St Helens and Whiston used a main branch hose to tackle the blaze after six worried neighbours dialled 999 in a matter of minutes.
It took them about 45 minutes to extinguish the flames and they remained at the scene until shortly after 3.15am.
Fire investigators believe the blaze was sparked deliberately - in the centre of the stand to cause maximum damage.
Mr Swift, who revealed that club bosses are offering a “substantial cash reward” for information which leads to a conviction, said that this only added to the pain and anger.
He added: “We built the gazebo through the winter and into the summer to provide some shelter for the kids and the spectators into the new season.
“A lot of people gave their time and effort to help build it - giving up their weekends and late nights - and it had only just been finished.
“It only adds to the pain to know that someone has deliberately destroyed all that.
“I’m gutted for everyone who gave their time up for free and for everyone who’s now going to miss out on using such a good facility.”
Fire service watch manager Ian Mullen said: “The stand, which measured about 25 metres by five metres, was severely damaged.
“The fire also spread to the clubhouse, with heat slightly damaging around 10 metres of guttering and cracking several windows.
“Firefighters worked quickly at the scene to prevent the fire damaging anything else.”
Mr Mullen, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s arson reduction boss, added: “Luckily no-one was injured, but fires started deliberately can pose a risk to people - including those who start the fire.
“We investigate every fire we are called to and pass information to the police to help bring those who commit arson to court and to face the consequences of their crimes.”
Anyone with information about the blaze can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.