Reigate sports club hit by second suspected arson attack

Police are appealing for witnesses after another suspected arson attack at a Reigate sports club.

The early-hours blaze at the Old Reigatian Rugby Club in Park Lane on Saturday (July 12) was the second fire there in two weeks – and the fourth to hit an East Surrey sports club within three weeks.

All the suspected arsons have happened in the early hours and are believed by police to be linked.

Firefighters and police went to the scene at the Old Reigatian Rugby Club at about 4.40am on Saturday.

They found the main clubhouse alight and brought the blaze under control.

The building had already been badly damaged by a suspected arson attack at around 4am on Saturday, June 28.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: “There were no reports of any persons trapped or any injuries, however, significant damage has been caused to the building. “An investigation is being carried out into the cause of the fire, which is being treated as suspicious at this time.”

The other suspected arson attacks happened at the Horley Lawn Tennis Club in Vicarage Lane, Horley, on June 22, the Churchfields Bowls Club in Church Walk, Reigate, on June 26, and at a property in Massetts Road, Horley, on July 2.

The fire at Horley Lawn Tennis Club saw flames sweep through the £250,000 clubhouse, which was still under construction but nearing completion after four years of local fundraising by club members and a donation from Sport England.

The building was wrecked, with the roof collapsing.

At Churchfields Bowls Club, fire destroyed the club's wooden pavilion, along with all the equipment inside it.

The building had itself replaced the club's earlier pavilion, which had been destroyed by fire in 2000.

Following the four blazes, the charity Crimestoppers offered a reward of up to £2,000 for any information passed to them which led to the arrest and charging of an offender. A 43-year-old man from Epsom was arrested on July 5 in connection with the fires and was released on bail until August 21.

Officers from the Reigate and Banstead Safer Neighbourhood Team have been speaking to local residents to offer advice on security, while extra police patrols have been mounted in the area.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Antony Archibald, said: "This is the second blaze at the rugby club in the last couple of weeks and we are investigating the potential link between this and other fires across the area.

"I would like to reassure local residents that we remain determined to bring a stop to these incidents and bring whoever is responsible to justice.”

He said: “This criminality causes misery and distress for those who run such community facilities and the people that use them. It is also extremely dangerous and is potentially putting lives at risk. "I am appealing for anyone who was in the area of Park Lane and witnessed any suspicious activity to come forward.”

He added: "I would also ask all residents in the area, particularly those living close to sports clubs and community groups, to remain vigilant and report anything out of the ordinary to police immediately. “I would urge anyone with information about who is responsible for this, or any of the other fires, to contact us, or Crimestoppers if they prefer to remain anonymous.”

Anyone with information should contact Surrey Police on 101, quoting reference P14200970. The independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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