Robin Cousins sports centre fire - owner found out a birthday party
A BRISTOL businessman was celebrating his birthday when he was given the shocking news that his premises was burning to the ground.
Lee Adams, who owns the former Robin Cousins sports centre, was spending the eve of his 37th birthday with friends when he was told about the blaze.
Mr Adams, who used the former centre as a store for his garden furniture business, said he thought it might have been a break-in when he received an alarm call last Tuesday night.
"It was the night before my 37th birthday and I was celebrating with friends.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"I got my nephew to drive me down there and when I saw the place engulfed in flames, I was absolutely shocked and horrified."
Mr Adams, who runs his business from Redfield, is desperately keen to help track down the arsonists.
He also runs a CCTV security camera firm and captured them on film, show right with the video footage available at thisisbristol.co.uk.
He is urging anyone with information to contact the police by phoning 101.
He said he spent his birthday – last Wednesday – at the scene, talking to fire investigators and the police.
He said: "A lot of people have emotional attachments with the sports centre – I learnt judo there and my fiance went to roller disco on a Saturday night.
"My hope was to get the building back into a much better state than it had been for several years."
Mr Adams said he had £100,000 worth of garden furniture ready for the new season stored in the premises.
His stock was insured but the building, which has a rebuild value of £1 million, was not.
He said he had no idea why anyone would want to burn down the former sports centre.
"There are a lot of rumours going around including that I did it for insurance purposes but the building was not insured," he said.
He said one of the theories was that it could have been people who objected to a suggestion that the building could have been used as a mosque.
Mr Adams said the fire had closed down the garden furniture business for this year but hoped to get it running again next year.
He said it was too early to say what would become of the site.
Fire crews from four stations spent all night dealing with the blaze which started shortly before midnight last Tuesday.
They rushed to the scene after reports from residents of flames through the roof.
Firefighters used water jets to bring the blaze under control.
The former sports centre was closed down in 2005 and remained empty for several years.
Residents had been campaigning for the sports centre to be re-opened.
But last year planning permission was granted for the premises to be used as a furniture store.