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Iconic former bingo hall destroyed in huge inferno
An iconic former bingo hall and cinema in Shipley was destroyed by a huge fire last night.
The derelict 1930s building, on Leeds Road at Fox Corner, was engulfed by flames and smoke.
Thick smoke and particles of ash drifted among snow flakes into the night sky as firefighters, armed with more than ten engines, battled to control the blaze, which is thought to have started at about 8pm.
A fireman at the scene said, at 10pm, that crews feared the building was on the verge of collapse.
More than 100 onlookers descended on the scene, as some described seeing flames pouring out of windows and smoke billowing through bricks.
Richard Wilkinson said: “It was horrific, it was spewing out of all the windows.”
Steve White, 42, of Idle, was driving past the scene when he saw the fire. He said: “It is bad. It’s a shame really because it’s another loss for Bradford and Shipley.”
Josh Smith, 26, who lives in nearby Victoria Mills, said: “I could only see smoke at first, then flames kicked in.”
Others told of their memories of the building from when it was a bingo hall and a cinema.
Sharron Smith, 44, of Baildon, said she and her dad Michael used to work there.
“I started working there in 1987, when it was a bingo hall,” said Mrs Smith, who also played bingo there when she was aged 18. It is such a shame and it’s so sad watching it. I will be sad to see it go.”
She added: “My dad worked in there when it was a cinema. He was a projectionist. He will be gutted about this. He worked there with all his mates.”
Mrs Smith also remembered her grandma winning £4,500 on the bingo years ago.
Mathew Ward, 18, saw the drama unfolding from his house nearby. He said: “I saw it on one corner of the building and then it spread.”
David Thompkins, 42, of Shipley, was watching the drama with his son Ryan Bilney, 12.
“It is sad to see it go up in flames,” said Mr Thompkins. “I remember playing bingo in there.”
A fireman said: “All the floors have collapsed on each other inside, which makes it hard for us to get to the fire at the bottom. We will be here for hours putting water on it.”
The cause of the fire is still unknown.