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Petition launched to save site where two Warrington men died
11:30am Sunday 6th October 2013 in News
SHE recalls feeling helpless as she watched the fire engulf the Summerland leisure complex in the Isle of Man, which killed 50 people including two men from Warrington.
But 40 years on, Tina Brennen is fighting to make sure the men, women and children who lost their lives in the tragedy will never be forgotten.
Tina was 19-years-old when she stood on the cliffs above, an innocent bystander as the £2m Summerland indoor entertainment and leisure complex burnt to the ground.
It is a tragedy which was later recorded as the second worst loss of life from fire on land in the British Isles since World War II.
The 59-year-old, who lives on the Isle of Man, remembers seeing the clouds of smoke from her home in Onchan and walked outside to take a closer look.
Tina said: “When we got there it was like looking down into the jaws of hell. It was totally ablaze with thick black smoke belching out into the sky.”
The fire on August 2, 1973 was described as one of the most disturbing fire disasters in British history.
Friends Alan Barker, from Fearnhead, and Sean Kelly, from Woolston, were two of the victims.
Tina said: “I knew as I stood watching there would be people dying in there - it went up so fast. It still upsets me to this day that I couldn't do anything to help.”
The Summerland fire started in a pay kiosk by a group of young teenagers which quickly spread to the seven-story building.
It has been stated that 3,000 people entered the leisure complex on the seafront but 50 didn’t make it out alive, and approximately 102 people were injured.
The site, which now lies derelict, is now for sale by the Isle of Man Government but Tina has other ideas for the land.
She said: “I strongly believe it is the moral duty of the Isle of Man Government to stop any building development on the Summerland disaster site and retain the land for commemorative gardens.
“As a Manx woman I feel ashamed of successive Isle of Man Governments who have kept quiet on the subject.”
A coroner’s inquest later recorded death by misadventure verdict.
Tina has since set up a petition in a bid to prevent any development on the land.
“We owe all those who died a great debt. Because of their sacrifice, proper fire legislation, building control and fire safety procedures were very quickly tightened up on the Island and the UK.”
Visit gopetition.com and search for ‘summerland for commemorative gardens’.
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