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February 4, 2023

Suspicious fire destroys change rooms at Murwillumbah

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A forensic police officer inspects the damaged change rooms. (supplied)
A forensic police officer inspects the damaged change rooms. (supplied)

First the flood, now a fire.

Three Murwillumbah sporting clubs have lost their equipment  in a suspicious fire that destroyed  change rooms and storage facilities  at John Rabjones Oval/Les Cave Oval on Tuesday night.

A Tweed Council spokesperson said the council-owned building, which was insured, was so badly damaged it will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

The change rooms were used by members of the Murwillumbah Vulcans AFL, the Murwillumbah Football Club and Murwillumbah Cricket Club.

Vulcans committee member Dave Cogger said the club was already struggling after losing canteen equipment and stock in the flood, as the canteen was the main source of income for the club. And with the last three games called off due to sodden grounds, this Saturday’s games were important for the club’s financial stability.

‘The Under 15 girls relied on those changerooms. Now they’ll have to get changed upstairs, with someone standing at the door – it’s not good,’ Mr Cogger said.

‘It’s not about us, it’s about the kids and getting them away from the computers. First there was the flood – and now this.’

Mr Cogger estimates the club’s losses from equipment stored in the burnt building will be around $2500, on top of $5000 in damages from the flood.

The news for the Murwillumbah Football Club is worse. The club’s junior director, Chris Shapland said all the junior equipment is now gone – including 60 balls nets, line marking equipment, with the losses estimated at around $5000.

‘I don’t know how we could play on Saturday – this place is usually packed with 150 kids. We’re having a meeting to see what we can do,’ Mr Shapland said.

The club’s junior losses come on top of the loss of all the senior equipment during the flood at the club’s other base at Jim Devine Fields.

Murwillumbah Cricket Club, which fields junior and senior teams in the summer season, also lost around $5000 of stored equipment in the fire.

Unit Coordinator Recreation Services, Matt McCann, said it was heartbreaking to see all the hard work of volunteers and players allegedly destroyed by vandals.

‘The building will be replaced and the clubs will no doubt keep going but what’s the point in this senseless act of. vandalism,’ Mr Mc Cann said.

‘We’ll be doing all we can to work with the Police and clubs to find out who did this and hopefully, that may lead to a prosecution.’

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