Youth centre counts cost of arson attack
WORKERS at a Sheffield youth and anti-racism centre were today counting the cost of a weekend arson attack.
The blaze which caused smoke damage throughout the building at Mount Pleasant, in Sharrow, was the culmination of three incidents in the past week.
Staff hadn´t even had a chance to replace a fire door damaged by fire last week when raiders broke into the building again on Saturday night and set light to a leaflet store after ransacking the place.
A police officer at the scene revealed the centre, on Sharr-ow Lane, had also been broken into on Friday night.
Staff from the Asian Young Women´s Project, ConneXions and Football United Racism Divides were assessing the damage left by the latest attack.
One worker, who asked not to be named, said he had joined firemen as they were hosing down around 11pm on Satur-day.
"It´s devastating for us," he said. "I was passing on my way home when I saw the fire brigade and police here.
"They were just hosing down. It wasn´t a big fire. The back stairs is a storage area for leaflets and they set light to that. But our office has also been trashed.
"There was a fire here last week, but they started that from the outside."
This time, a fire spokesman confirmed, the culprits broke in and started a blaze. Crews from Central fire station attended after a 999 call.
"Smoke was coming out of the building and people were running about," said Station Officer Steve Adams.
"There is no doubt it was deliberate. We found a double door which looked like it had been broken into and a fire had been set behind them. There were a lot of pamphlets about.
"The place was totally smoke-logged. We had to fight the fire and send in the thermal imaging camera in case there was anyone in there."
Extensive fire damage was caused to one of the entrances to the building.
Howard Holmes, co-ordinator of Football Unites, said they had lost equipment in the raid. "I don´t think there´s a racist agenda," he said. "They have stolen a couple of computers so there was profit to be gained."
The centre is under review and the weekend attacks come ahead of a meeting tomorrow with Sheffield Futures, which runs the youth service.
On the agenda is The Porter Project, which aims to relocate the Football Unites Racism Divides project and other youth services to a new base near to the cemetery between Ecclesall Road and Sharrow.
Sheffield Star 26 July 2004