THE owner of a popular Hartlepool snooker club has spoken of his devastation after seeing “12 years of hard work” go up in smoke.
A blaze ripped through the roof of Hartlepool Snooker Club, in Green Street, off Burn Road, early yesterday and fire crews from across Teesside were sent to fight the flames.
After several hours of crews damping down the building and a section of the A689 being cordoned off with the building deemed unsafe, the decision was made to start pulling it down.
Neil Mosley, the devastated owner of the centre, said he was “gutted” that the building had to come down.
The 44-year-old described how he had been told about the fire shortly after it broke out at 3.30am, and he rushed to the centre, which is used by hundreds of town snooker players.
He watched helplessly as flames licked through the roof.
Neil said: “I’m just devastated.
“We have built it up for 11 years, and for a year before that we physically built it with a builder friend.
“Me and my wife Tracy worked damn hard, and in just one night it’s all been taken off us.
“It means there’s no snooker club basically.”
The dad-of-two, from Horden, said he was told about the blaze by a former employee who lives nearby, and when Neil went to the scene, he was faced with “an inferno”.
He added: “I went down for half an hour and couldn’t get anywhere near.
“You couldn’t see that much, it was just dark, but seeing the flames was depressing.” He said no one knew the cause of the fire, but added: “It’s pointing towards something electrical. “The staff left as usual, between 11.30pm and midnight and switched everything off. The only thing usually left on is the fridge freezer.”
As well as the snooker centre, the building also houses Stag Tyres, the Fix n Go garage and Woodworx.
In addition to the road closure, gas and electricity supplies nearby had to be shut off as a result of the fire.
In total, 24 firefighters fought the flames with two crews from Stranton joined by a team from the Headland, one from Billingham and another from Stockton, as well as the hydraulic platform and Cleveland Fire Brigade’s incident command unit.
A crew from Middlesbrough were on standby at Stranton Station to cover any other town incidents yesterday morning.
Andy Robinson, watch manager at Stranton, said: “We used jets to fight the fire from the outside.
“We don’t yet know what the cause was. We will be doing a joint investigation with the police.”
Hartlepool police had appealed for people to avoid the area while the incident was ongoing.
A police spokeswoman said: “Police and fire officers will begin an investigation into how the fire started, once it’s been deemed safe to do so.
“The fire is currently being treated as unexplained.”
Police are appealing for anyone with information about the blaze to call them on 101.