VIDEO: Methil club blaze treated as wilful fireraising

A former social hub in the heart of Levenmouth has been destroyed by fire.

Police are treating the blaze at Denbeath Miners Welfare Institute and bowling club as wilful fireraising and have appealed for witnesses.

Locals claimed youths were seen running away from the scene of the inferno, which sent flames shooting through the rood of the century-old building in Den Walk before it collapsed.

Neighbours said they had regularly reported break-ins and fire-raising at the category C-listed club amid fears someone would be seriously hurt or even killed.

Yesterday’s incident is now under investigation.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said around 30 firefighters were involved in tackling the flames at the height of the blaze, with six appliances and a height appliance in use.

Residents living nearby were urged to avoid the area and keep their windows and doors closed, while children at neighbouring Denbeath Primary School were kept indoors over lunchtime.

The Leven to Buckhaven bus was also diverted.

One woman living near the former club said: “It’s not the first time this has happened.

“Kids are always hanging about and breaking in.

“They set wee fires. Usually it’s just a wee bit but this time it’s huge and the roof has collapsed.”

She added: “I’ve spoken to the police about this umpteen times.

“What if one of the kids gets trapped in there? It’s a nightmare.”

The social club was a local landmark, with one councillor describing it as an iconic building, and it once played a pivotal role in the community.

It featured in the hit 1980s comedy Tutti Frutti, which filmed interior shots there.

The club closed in 2012 when the Denbeath Miners and Welfare Charitable Organisation went into voluntary liquidation because of soaring costs.

In March, Kingdom Housing Association submitted a planning application to demolish the building and create 22 affordable homes in its place.

The application has not yet been considered by Fife Council.

Methil councillor John O’Brien said the building was completely ruined.

“That’s it finished. The roof has caved in,” he said.

“There are rumours young kids were seen running away from the building.

“It’s a shameful way to see a building end after almost 100 years. It’s the end of an era.”

Councillor Ken Caldwell, chair of Levenmouth area committee, said: “It’s a real shame to see such an iconic building go up in flames.

“The club played such a pivotal role in the community for years before its demise.”

Police said they were working with the fire service to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident and urged anyone with information to contact them on 101, quoting incident number 1454 of August 16.

Information can also be passed on anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.