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Dave Beans

Was The Bradford City Fire Started Deliberately?

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http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/apr/15/bradford-fire-stafford-heginbotham-martin-fletcher

The author claims that the fire, that killed 56 people, was started by the then-chairman, who had previous for arson...

Interesting, but why wouldn't he wait until just after the game, to start it?

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http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/apr/15/bradford-fire-stafford-heginbotham-martin-fletcher

The author claims that the fire, that killed 56 people, was started by the then-chairman, who had previous for arson...

I'll be pedantic, the chairman didn't have previous for arson. There were a non-trivial number of fires over multiple businesses over a number of years. Whether this is significant or not really depends upon the number of businesses he was involved with.

Troubling though.

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It doesn't really prove anything - however its one almighty coincidence.

As for why during the game ? Well I imagine fire starting is not the most safe and exacting pricess.

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Why start it during the game?

Lots of people there and so when it comes question time from the Fire Service/Police you can legitimately claim that any one of 1,000 people could have started it with a dropped cigarette. You need to remember at that time it was more than normal to have a quick fag at the back of the stand.

Do it when nobody is around then arson would be the number one focus of any investigation.

If you have ever seen the video then I'm pretty sure that if it was arson, and I have no idea one way or the other, the person responsible really wouldn't have had much of a clue on how serious it was going to turn out. It was in many ways a perfect storm as far as fires go, old wooden structure, plenty of litter under the stand, dry and ready to ignite.

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Who knows for sure. On the one hand 80's football grounds were in pretty bad shape, so it is easy to see why the cigarette butt explanation was immediately accepted. On the other hand there does seem to be a lot of circumstantial evidence against the chairman (links to fires and financial problems).


A few points to consider:


-Its amazing none of this was mentioned by the local media at the time, reporters on local newspaper must have had the memories of goldfish (or more likely a cosy relationship with local business men and the local football club). So its a bit sad that the youngest survivor had to bring this up.


-Looked at the local papers website today, they seemed very dismissive. Interesting the best the chairman's former friends an colleagues could come up with to describe him was "likeable rogue" and "someone that flies by the seat of their pants" http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/12892886.BRADFORD_CITY_FIRE__Valley_Parade_disaster_book_s_claims_branded__sickening__by_family_of_former_club_chairman/


-The wiki page seems to suggest there were rumours flying around at the time about the chairman's involvement ('poison pen letters' and graffiti ), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradford_City_stadium_fireso it doesn't seem like these are the ideas of one (naturally) bitter man



All in all very dark, like many off the topics around this time discussed on HPC "off topic" :(

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I have always doubted this cigarette thing.

An elderly neighbour of mine had cigarette burns on her carpets, furniture etc. I was scared that she would have a fire, but she never did.

Has there been any scientific research into whether a cigarette can cause anything other than smouldering?

I know that you can drop a lit cigarette into petrol and it will not ignite the petrol because the flash point of the petrol is above the smouldering ash's temperature.

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I have always doubted this cigarette thing.

An elderly neighbour of mine had cigarette burns on her carpets, furniture etc. I was scared that she would have a fire, but she never did.

Has there been any scientific research into whether a cigarette can cause anything other than smouldering?

I know that you can drop a lit cigarette into petrol and it will not ignite the petrol because the flash point of the petrol is above the smouldering ash's temperature.

In the past a majority house fires were started by cigarettes, you don't need much to ignite something else (other than a bit of time) and then it's really the secondary agent that gets the thing really going, in house fires that's normally furniture materials.

You need to remember this was in the 80's, as I said a bit of a perfect storm along the following lines.

1. more people smoked and it would have been fine to do so in a football stand

2. the structure was wooden

3. the type of stand would have a large void space underneath

4. the void space would have been full of large amounts of dry litter

5. that litter would have been older materials, a lot more paper than today I'd expect where it would be plastic cups and polystyrene

6. The fire could smoulder away unnoticed for some time before the proper ignition, after that it would have rapidly spread given the above conditions.

If you watch the video you can first see the fire at the 46 second mark, one end was completely ablaze about 2 minutes later. You can see for yourself how quickly it then spreads across the stand, less than 3 minutes for it to be absolutely engulfed in flames because of the reasons above. Unless you believe they put accelerant in the roof of the stand, which of course they didn't, once the fire takes given the correct conditions it spreads very very rapidly.

The first started in the stand at the 40 minute mark in regards to the match and so plenty of time for somebody to have been in the stand, dropped something and then a period for an ignition to take place.

I'm not saying it was or wasn't started by a cigarette but I think given the conditions it's certainly possible.

----

Some background on cigarette fires, smoking related fires are down 75% since the 1980's, in part due to lower ignition strength cigarettes and also stricter standards in fire resistant materials in furniture. Fires don't start rapidly from a cigarette but that's not to suggest that certainly in the past a majority of house fires were smoking related.

Smoking related fires are still number one of fatalities when it comes to home fires, although as a total of causes they rank 3rd behind cooking equipment and electrical fires.

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The blaze that killed 56 football fans at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground in 1985 was just one of at least nine fires at businesses owned by or associated with the club’s then chairman, according to extraordinary evidence published for the first time.




Fletcher does not make any direct allegations but he does believe Heginbotham’s history with fires, resulting in payouts of around £27m in today’s terms, warranted further investigation. “Could any man really be as unlucky as Heginbotham had been?” he asks.


The disaster at Valley Parade came at a time, according to Fletcher’s evidence, when the businessman was in desperate financial trouble, unable to pay his workforce beyond that month. Heginbotham had learned two days before the fire it would cost £2m to bring the ground up to safety standards required by Bradford’s promotion from the old Third Division that season. Yet this has never been reported and did not feature in the Popplewell Inquiry, chaired by the then high court judge Oliver Popplewell, which held its investigation only three weeks after the fire.



Guardian article quotes. my bold and italics.

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One thing learned is that never mind how much public pressure there is to open an enquiry swiftly, it is better to wait for a year or so.

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I have always doubted this cigarette thing.

An elderly neighbour of mine had cigarette burns on her carpets, furniture etc. I was scared that she would have a fire, but she never did.

Has there been any scientific research into whether a cigarette can cause anything other than smouldering?

I know that you can drop a lit cigarette into petrol and it will not ignite the petrol because the flash point of the petrol is above the smouldering ash's temperature.

The Kings Cross fire two years later was apparently started by either a dropped match or cigarette, which set fire to the crap underneath the escalator..

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