THE Armidale Club has been gutted by a “suspicious fire”.
Local fire crews rushed to Beardy Street about 5.30am Friday after reports of a fire at the Beardy Street premises.
The blaze swept through the building, destroying parts of the roof and causing wide-spread chaos for surrounding residents, with road closures between Taylor and Marsh Street for most of the morning.
“On arrival they found the fire was burning through the roof,” Armidale Fire and Rescue Acting Inspector Wayne Zikan said.
“We had two fire engines on there scene with 25 firefighters… they did a very good job under the conditions,” he said.
Armidale Police Acting Inspector Mark Pringle said the cause is yet to be determined, but authorities are treating the incident as suspicious.
“At this stage police are still investigating the matter,” he said.
The club owners, Kate Richards and Allen St James, who also go by Allen Edwards, were devastated as they watched their livelihood go up in smoke.
“We were about to open the biggest beer garden in town,” Ms Richards said.
“We just shut up as normal at 1am and then got a call from a hairdresser just before 8am.”
The popular watering-hole also received a significant facelift in early 2015 with new carpet, walls and beer lines, all of which now lie in ashes.
An investigations team from Tamworth will help determine the cause of the blaze.
Also effected by the incident is musician, Willow Stahlut from the The Imprints, an Australian band who were set to perform at the club on September 24.
Her mother, Francesca Stahlut, said they were devastated to hear that Armidale had lost a prime live-music venue.
“It’s [the Armidale Club] always been a supporter of live music and it has great atmosphere, that’s something very special. She’s [Willow] just got back from touring overseas and she was keen to do a home-town gig.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.