VILLAGERS in Barrowby watched with horror on Sunday night as their British Legion was destroyed by fire.
Five fire crews from Grantham, Bingham, Brant Broughton and Corby Glen were called at just after 11.15pm.
They battled throughout the night to get the blaze under control but were not able to stop 80 per cent of the building being gutted by fire and the rest being severely smoke and heat damaged.
Chairman of the Barrowby branch, which is thought to be the oldest in the country, Stuart Abbott, was awoken by the legion’s barman, who heard banging coming from the building as he walked home.
He said: “It’s devastating to the community. I got the phone call about 11.20pm and my reaction was horror.
“What can I say? It’s horrendous. It’s a sodden black mess.”
The fire, which destroyed much of the roof, was the third at the legion in just over a month.
On August 12 and 14 two fires were set in the building but they were discovered and extinguished. The arsonists have not yet been found.
Fire investigators spent Monday afternoon searching for the cause of the latest fire but were unable to reach a conclusion.
Mr Abbott said: “It’s disgusting what’s happened. It’s too much. But there is no way we are giving up on getting it back up and running again. It’s obviously got to be rebuilt of other materials.
“We work hard to keep the place open and keep it going for people and we just get this sort of thing.”
Treasurer of the branch Ben Loomes also saw the building on fire.
He said: “It was terrible. When I got here you could see flames billowing out of the roof. It’s distressing. You could hear the roof popping, it sounded like fireworks.
“If it was arson then it is disappointing as it will be the third time but if it is electrical it’s an unfortunate accident, just a coincidence. We will not be broken, we will not close until every option is exhausted.”
Last month the legion’s future was threatened when the members were barred from holding live music by South Kesteven District Council. But despite the fire members still plan to fight this ruling.