Fire erupts near the Earth Centre

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Arsonists started a blaze which swept through a dormitory block next to a multi-million pound former eco-attraction.

Around 25 firefighters tackled the fire which started in Denaby’s Doncaster Road - near the Earth Centre - and gutted two floors of the building.

Reinforcements had to be called in for the mammoth five-hour task as crews from Edlington, Dearne, Maltby and Rotherham attending, as well as Doncaster’s CARP aerial appliance all helped put out the blaze.

The fire, which happened around 5.45pm on Sunday, is believed to have been started deliberately. No-one was injured.

Owners of the Earth Centre, Kingswood, said the blaze had not stalled its plans to transform the 50 acres of land into a £7 million activity centre.

Darren Pallett, head of property at Kingswood, confirmed: “The accommodation block is not part of the redevelopment of the Earth Centre site and therefore will not affect plans to open the new Dearne Valley centre in March 2012.”

Kingswood selected contractors Wilmott Dixon earlier last month to regenerate the site, which is set to create 200 jobs when it opens in the spring.

Building work includes the refurbishment of existing buildings such as the welcome centre, conference building, cafe, multi-purpose hall, class rooms, reception and retail space, laser quest area and climbing wall. Accommodation for pupils and teachers will also be built to provide 120 rooms.

Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the north, said: “Much of the sustainable technology that was installed in the former Earth Centre is still pioneering and our work will ensure that we protect and reclaim every aspect we can.

“But we are also focused on sustainability in its widest sense and making sure that local communities benefit as much as possible.”

Mr Dillon ensured as much construction work as possible would be carried out by local businesses within a ten to 30 mile radius.