Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Football club fire 'may be arson'

Flames engulfed the former social club premises

Police are treating a fire at a football clubhouse in County Antrim as suspicious.

Fire crews were called to the blaze at Carrick Rangers Football Club in Carrickfergus at about 0530 GMT.

Flames engulfed disused buildings alongside the football pitch at Taylors Avenue and large plumes of smoke billowed into nearby streets.

Chairman David Hilditch said there were "indications" that the fire had been started deliberately.

He added that the football stands and changing rooms had survived but there could still be a "massive financial impact" on the club.

The fire caused difficulties for people living in Barnhill Cottages, a residential fold close to the club.

Only one member of staff was able to get into work.

Senior support worker Angela Williams, who has been in contact with her, said she was managing to cope in the situation.

She said: "She has reassured all the tenants and everything seems to be OK."

Ms Williams said she had moved one tenant because he had had his windows open and his house was full of smoke.

"But they are all safe and everything is OK and under control," she said.

Carrick Rangers are due to play their next home game at the grounds on 9 January.

A spokesperson from the Fire and Rescue Service said that three fire engines and an aerial platform

Later on Monday, police said Taylors Avenue, which was closed at its junction with Marine Highway, had been reopened.

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