FIRE DE­STROYS TEN­NIS CEN­TRE

Fire guts re­gional ten­nis cen­tre

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Liana Turner liana.turner@tweed­dai­lynews.com.au

THE Tweed’s ten­nis com­mu­nity is reel­ing af­ter fire gut­ted the Joan Ni­choll Ten­nis Cen­tre at Ter­ra­nora in the early hours of Fri­day morn­ing. A hub for elite ju­nior tal­ent in the area, mem­bers have vowed to re-open as soon as pos­si­ble, with the courts largely un­dam­aged.

AN EARLY morn­ing fire has de­stroyed the Ter­ra­nora ten­nis cen­tre.

Coaches and com­mit­tee mem­bers gath­ered at the scene in dis­tress yes­ter­day as they watched emer­gency ser­vices as­sess the charred re­mains of the Henry Law­son Drive cen­tre.

Half of the club house has crum­bled, with the sec­tion clos­est to the ten­nis court com­pletely gut­ted.

Tweed Heads Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice se­nior fire­fighter Greg Mackay said they were called to the scene just be­fore 4am (NSW) to find the cen­tre largely en­gulfed in flames.

Fire­fight­ers from Tweed Heads and Banora Point at­tended, with the last leav­ing the scene at 8.15am.

The cen­tre’s me­dia of­fi­cer Judy Cartwright said they

were “ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated” by the fire.

Tweed By­ron LAC in­spec­tor Jackie Lil­ley said a nearby res­i­dent had alerted emer­gency ser­vices af­ter see­ing the blaze from their kitchen win­dow about 3.55am.

Insp Lil­ley said Tweed Heads de­tec­tives were car­ry­ing out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fire – which may have be­gan in the cafe­te­ria –

and was be­ing treated as sus­pi­cious.

“They are seek­ing any in­for­ma­tion that the com­mu­nity might have to as­sist us with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” she said.

“At this point, there is some con­cern in re­la­tion to struc­tural dam­age. We have to en­sure the elec­tric­ity has been iso­lated... and we have con­cerns about the roof col­laps­ing.”

There was min­i­mal dam­age to the ten­nis courts them­selves.

Club pres­i­dent Rob Nien­huis said while the fire would be a big hur­dle, the 180-strong mem­ber club would re­main re­silient.

“We’re go­ing to get it back up and run­ning as quickly as pos­si­ble,” Mr Nien­huis said.

“We’re not go­ing to let this set us back.”

Sec­re­tary Deb­bie Teitzel

vis­ited the scene with fel­low mem­bers yes­ter­day morn­ing, and said she was “dev­as­tated” by the blaze.

She said they were not yet sure how long the club’s op­er­a­tions would need to be sus­pended.

A hub for elite ju­nior tal­ent, plans were an­nounced re­cently to con­struct three grass courts, giv­ing the cen­tre ev­ery ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion sur­face.

PHO­TOS: LIANA TURNER / CON­TRIB­UTED

DEV­AS­TATED: Ten­nis cen­tre me­dia of­fi­cer Judy Cartwright and pres­i­dent Rob Nien­huis at the scene of the fire which de­stroyed the cen­tre in the early hours of Novem­ber 3. IN­SET: The blaze in its full fury.

PHOTO: LIANA TURNER

GUT­TED: Emer­gency ser­vices on the scene at the Joan Ni­choll Ten­nis Cen­tre at Ter­ra­nora af­ter fire gut­ted the club­house yes­ter­day.

Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of the fire which de­stroyed the club­house.

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