ELECTRICAL FAULT TO BLAME FOR RINK INFERNO

THE FIRE which devastated Fife Ice Arena on Monday night was caused by an electrical fault.

Fire service investigators concluded their detailed examination of the rink on Tuesday afternoon.

And on Wednesday they confirmed that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire which is said to have caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the south facing end of the building.

The fire started in a corner of the ground floor of the two storey building next to the curler's lounge and rose through the seating area at section F into the roof space.

At the height of the blaze, 36 firefighters and seven appliances including an aerial platform from all over Fife fought the inferno, and flames could be seen shooting out of the roof and a pall of smoke covering most of the Gallatown.

One fireman was slightly injured when he was hit by falling roof timbers, but his helmet protected him and he did not require hospital treatment.

There were fears that hazardous substances including ammonia and gas cylinders used in the refrigeration process could ignite, and extra precautions had to be taken to protect the firefighters.

Thermal imaging cameras were used to pinpoint hotspots and a detailed plan of the rink was called up on one of the fire appliance's latest vehicle mounted data systems to show where the main hazard areas were.

Police closed off streets surrounding the rink, including Pottery Street in case there was an explosion, and officers were on standby to evacuate surrounding houses if necessary.

Station manager David Latto, who was part of the fire service's investigation team, said: "The cause of the fire has been attributed to an electrical fault within the rink.

"The investigation was concluded on Tuesday afternoon and there is nothing to suggest that it was started maliciously.

"We will now work with the owner and manager of the rink to try to prevent anything like this happening in future."

Group manager Alan Mann, who was in overall charge of the firefighting operation, described the fire as "significant."

"When were coming down the A92 we could see smoke coming out the full length of the building.

"We divided into two separate groups and fought the fire from both ends and both sides of the rink.

"It was a potentially dangerous situation, given the chemicals and the gas cylinders, and parts of the timber roof structures were also coming down, so at certain times we had to pull men out. The heat was also very intense and men were coming out of the building completely exhausted because of the conditions.

"Because the heat had built up in the roof area it melted plastic and broke glass at the far end of the building where the Fife Lounge is. We had to cut the gas supplies and also power down the electrical supply, although there was a separate supply for the plant which keeps the ice frozen which was not turned off.

"We had firefighters with breathing apparatus in the roof space to isolate the fire and stop it spreading, and it was difficult for us to get in.

"One of the company directors was there to advise us on the layout of the building and the storage of the chemicals, and fortunately these were not affected or it could have been a lot worse."

The blaze was brought under control within three hours, but an appliance remained at the rink throughout Tuesday morning damping down and helping with the investigation process.

Fife Ice Arena is the home of the SNL ice hockey champions Fife Flyers and hundreds of youngsters train there as part of Kirkcaldy Ice Hockey Club's Junior Development Programme.

It also hosts curling teams, recreational ice hockey, figure skating and public skating sessions.

Reaction to the fire here

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