ARSONISTS who targeted a former youth club building have been slammed for putting lives at risk.
Firefighters were called to the burning derelict Hetton Lyons Boys’ Club this morning.
Crews had to hold off from tackling a section of the fire due to fears concerning the overhead electricity cables leading into the structure.
Electrical engineers were called to remove a fuse from a nearby sub-station.
It is believed the fire stated maliciously in the hall inside the building, on Hetton Lyons Industrial Estate, where a large amount of rubbish had been piled up.
Crews from Sunderland Central, Farrington Row and Hebburn stations were joined by a team from Birtley, with a total of 16 officers called to the scene.
Crew manager Ian Robinson, based at Hebburn, said: “Potentially, those who set these fires put their lives at risk and those of the people who are prepared to rescue them.
“Should they get into difficulties, they could get trapped and it could be that a neighbour or passerby go in to rescue them, they would be at risk and get into trouble, as would any firefighters.
“There’s not just the potential for a gable end to go, it could be a truss from the roof could fall down, and we would ask people to keep out of buildings.”
Crews arriving at the former club found the fire had already spread through into the roof and was well alight.
“The building had been quite well secured and it took us some time to gain access,” said Mr Robinson.
“We went in through the side doors and had to take the frame off around its hinges to get in.
“The gas supply was isolated within an hour and around an hour and a half for the electricity.”