UPDATED: Fire rips through derelict Deane Conservative Club after 'petrol bomb attack'
A FIRE which ripped through a derelict conservative club may have been started by yobs throwing petrol bombs.
The blaze broke out at Deane Conservative Club in Raven Road just before 8pm on Sunday.
Police have now launched an investigation after a gang of about 20 youngsters were seen hanging around the area before the fire broke out, according to firefighters.
Neighbours living in Wigan Road — which backs on to the club site — say the empty building has become a regular target for vandals since it was sold in 2011.
Fire crews were called to another suspected arson attack at the club in July when a sofa and pile of rubbish were set on fire.
The latest blaze destroyed the roof and the main structure of the building.
Wigan Road resident and mum-of-three Lynsay Gore said: “My kids shouted me when they saw the blue lights flashing at the back of the house.
“You could see the black smoke coming from the building. But it’s not the first time it’s been targeted by kids. We’ve seen them climbing on the roof of the club before and I know the police were looking into it.
“I didn’t realise it could have been petrol bombs. That really worries me, especially because I have young children.”
The flames were put out by 10.20pm.
Karsten Boyle, watch manager at Bolton Central Fire Station, said: “The fire was well alight when we arrived.
“It appears some form of accelerants had been used because the fire was so well developed.”
The club and land has been derelict since it was sold in 2011 but owner Neil Turnbull has had plans to build 12 houses approved by Bolton Council.
The houses will be divided into six semi-detached blocks and the main access will be via Raven Road.
Mr Turnbull declined to comment on the fire or when work would start on the site.