Birmingham & Black Country

Wednesbury Leisure Centre fire 'believed to be arson'

Smoke damage at Wednesbury Leisure Centre Image copyright West Midlands Fire Service
Image caption Preparatory work had begun on a replacement for the old Wednesbury Leisure Centre

Suspected arsonists struck at a former leisure centre where work had begun on its £7m replacement.

Six crews were called to a blaze at the old Wednesbury Leisure Centre, High Bullen, shortly after midnight.

Two firemen were taken to hospital after smoke and dust went in their eyes but they were discharged and returned to duty.

A new centre and swimming pool are being built at the site. The new centre is due to open in 2015.

Image copyright West Midlands Fire Service
Image caption Firefighters used a steel saw to enter the burning building

A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: "The fire is believed to be an arson."

The flames were under control within three hours, the spokesman said.

Wednesbury North's Labour Councillor Elaine Costigan said preparatory work had begun for the replacement leisure centre before the blaze.

She said: "I can't believe this has happened. It's a great shame when there's good work going on."

A fire began in the rear section of the building, and a room within the old gymnasium was "100% destroyed by fire", said the service.

More on this story