Fire destroys Bega Rec Ground kiosk

ON MONDAY night a fire - allegedly deliberately lit - decimated the Bega Recreation Grounds kiosk.

“Unfortunately we received a call from the fire brigade a bit after 10pm last night that there was a fire down here at the kiosk at the rec ground,” Bega Roosters president Garry Arkin said.

“The fire brigade seemed to think that the fire started here on the side of the building underneath the eaves, where a wheelie bin was lit.

“Apparently it was filled by paper that came out of the toilet area.

“The toilet area was damaged and they [had] been left unlocked.

“They believed the fire was lit there, it got up into the roof and spread through the building.”

Mr Arkin said the fire has caused extensive damage to the club house.

“It has really gutted the building - we’ve just got the shell left.

“A lot of equipment inside has been badly damaged such as pie warmers, urns, all well and truly buggered.

“We will be in discussions with council for what we are going to do, how we progress from now, whether we can get temporary accommodation up or not, and we’ll see how it goes.

“The building will be fenced off by council later on today [Tuesday], and an electrician is arriving to see if we can isolate and get some power to a few of the areas out on to the ground for training.

“It would be at least 30 years old, so it’s stood the test of time.

“We have had ongoing incidents of vandalism here because of the isolation of the ground and the non-secure area of the recreation ground, so unfortunately this probably just heightens calls for the public to be locked out of the grounds.

“This ground is what the council has identified as a regional sporting ground, the headquarters of the Bega Valley Shire for sport along with the Pambula Sporting Complex, so unfortunately that could be the outcome of all this.”

Mr Arkin said while there had been instances of vandalism at the recreation grounds before, there had never been one to this scale.

“Police are investigating,” he said.

“They told us there had been reports of some young people being sighted around this are, and they were following up those leads.

“It’s a council building on council land. The football club built it through fundraising and no doubt we will be going back to the public to see how much we can get [to rebuild it].

“This building is not just for the senior league, it’s used for the minor league, plus the cricket use it and [so does] soccer, so it’s virtually been a multipurpose building for a lot of the sporting public and youth of the area.”

According to Mr Arkin, major football carnivals have traditionally been held in Bega because of its locality and without this facility “it will put a dampener on Bega hosting those games”, but he hopes to have temporary facilities in place by the time matches start.

“[The kiosk] is a major fundraiser for us with our home games - it’s manned voluntarily every second weekend by the local committees and players,” Mr Arkin said.

“It just leaves you gobsmacked doesn’t it?”

Bega Police Inspector Jason Edmunds believed the fire was started out the back of the kiosk in wheelie bins about 9.30pm on Monday.

He said police are investigating a number of leads, and if any members of the public have any information regarding the incident they should contact the Bega Police on 6492 9999.

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