“If anyone had the idea that this would kill the club, they’re totally wrong.”
These were the fighting words from Tamworth Area Radio Model Aircraft Club president Larry Hoskins as he and his members count the cost of damage from an arson attack that gutted their shed and destroyed its contents on Saturday morning.
Mr Hoskins has vowed that the club would remain together, but admitted he was devastated by the fire that happened a month out from the biggest flying day of the year.
It’s believed thieves broke into the club’s shed off Racecourse Rd, Somerton, on Saturday morning and set it alight.
A tractor, ride-on lawn mower and other maintenance material along with thousands of dollars in model aircraft and “irreplaceable” vintage aircraft magazines were destroyed in the blaze. Several goods were also stolen.
Mr Hoskins told The Leader he believed the blaze was a deliberate attack on the club but said he and the members were determined to rebuild.
”Basically everything that the club owned is gone,” he said.
“The shed is destroyed and will have to be demolished.
“It is very depressing, the timing of the fire is rather peculiar because it is just one month out from our major event of the year.
“It makes it extremely difficult for us to hold our event, but we have decided to go ahead with it.”
While the shed and contents are insured, he said the time frame of when they could rebuild was unclear.
“We have no way of maintaining our flying field, we can’t mow or slash or do anything," Mr Hoskins said.
“We have lost three water tanks. The fire burnt so hot, the concrete slab is wrecked aswell.
“If somebody was setting out to ruin a club, this is pretty much the exact thing you’d do.
“I think the theft happened to mask the actual arson side of it.”
It’s understood the damage bill tops $100,000 with the fierce blaze causing an explosion.
Oxley Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd said police were appealing for anyone who might have seen suspicious vehicles or activity near the club on the weekend.
“The fire has caused major damage and is being treated as suspicious,” he said.
Mr Hoskins said he hoped community members could pitch in with a marquee to assist the club for their event on August 19 and 20.
If anyone can assist with donations or the loan of items, contact Larry Hoskins on 0417 463 484