Highbury Leisure Centre fire: Damage to refurbished gym laid bare as brigade confirms work on roof caused blaze
PUBLISHED: 19:02 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:27 27 September 2018
These sobering pictures show the extent of the damage to Highbury Leisure Centre after a fire destroyed its roof yesterday.
The footage comes as London Fire Brigade confirmed the blaze was started by contractors working on the roof. A hundred people were evacuated as the fire took hold but fortunately no one was hurt.
The building, which was refurbished to the tune of £2.5million and reopened in February after 18 months, will now be shut until further notice.
There were 12 fire engines and about 80 firefighters sent to the scene – including crews from Islington, Holloway and Stoke Newington.
The fire burned from midday until 2.45pm on Tuesday, but a huge plume of smoke was visible across London for hours more, and the brigade was on the scene damping down the remains into the night.
One gym user, Robin Lee, of Mountgrove Road, said: “It was quite traumatic, especially for the people working there.
“I’m gutted because they’ve only just finished working on it and must have spent a lot of money – it’s a great shame this has happened.”
A 38-year-old witness told the Gazette yesterday: “The roof is completely gutted and there [were] flames coming out of the top of the building.”
As reported by the Gazette at the time, neighbours in February complained the final design of the leisure centre didn’t match what had been agreed at planning, and operator GLL/Better agreed to shoulder the cost of fixing it. This week’s works are believed to relate to fixing a leak, not the remedial works, which have yet to begin.
GLL said: “Updates on the re-opening of the centre will be posted on the centre’s website. Better members may use our alternative facilities in Islington or neighbouring boroughs.”
People with belongings at the gym will be told when they are safe to collect.