Written by El-Khoury
Going back in time to May 11, 1985, when the untold tragedy took place at the Valley Parade in Bradford City, England. It was an unprecedented incident for the English stadiums, a moment of recklessness, a fatal mistake of someone who took away 56 victims. 56 people to lose their lives in such a tragic way.
From festivals and joy to an unexpected drama
Nothing evil could have been witnessed prior to the game. The home team faced Lincoln City in the last game of the year in the form of a fiesta, as Bradford was celebrating winning the trophy of the 3rd division of the English championship. The stadium was packed with 11,000 spectators who went to celebrate with their spirit.
Suddenly, while people were in the stands of the Bradford City Stadium built in 1911, a small fire started to appear on the oppositions side and the live broadcast of the match. And yet this small fire was capable within 4 minutes, expanding into all the wooden stands burning the seats and the shelter above.
In 4 minutes, the stadium was in ashes, and people were running in panic
Unable to realize what was happening, the fans began to run in panic and were jumping in fear on the pitch to escape the flames, as the fire spread rapidly. Others however, tried to get out of the gates at the back, but they were locked.
The tragic summary
Twenty-seven of the dead were found near the exit of the door where the fire broke out and another 6 to 9 near the wooden pavilion that had first caught fire. The death toll was 56 and more than 265 injured, while hundreds of people were taken to hospitals with burns or shortness of breath. More than half of those killed died under the age of 20 and over 70, including former team president Sam Firth. Rescue workers were found dead and wounded until the early hours of the next day, and many firefighters were crying from the horrific condition of the bodies they were seeing.
The cigarette version
But how did we end up with this tragedy? Evidence and testimonies suggest that someone extinguished a cigarette in a plastic cup which he grabbed in a pile of rubbish, on the wooden stand. Then the strong wind helped the fire spread rapidly on the wooden stands. Of course, the version of the cigarette has not been officially reported.
A conspiracy theory about fire
In addition to the cigarette version, years later, another screenplay was released about the causes of the tragedy. Author Martin Fletcher claimed in his book that in 14 years, there had been eight fires emphasised Bradford President, Stafford Hagenbotham, who received large sums of money in many of these cases. The book “Fifty-Six – The story of the Bradford Fire” was the result of a life search for Fletcher who had lost his father, brother and grandfather in the incident and escaped by accident. President Haginbotham died in 1995 without ever being seriously investigated.
Human negligence in the construction of the stadium
We may not know how the fire started, but it is certain that the stadium did not meet safety standards. In fact, in the past, there have been warnings about the danger posed by the accumulation of garbage under the base of the wooden stand and suggestions have been made to replace the wooden floor. However, it was also known that the club was facing financial difficulties at the time and did not want to incur any costs before the end of the season.
It was an event that was to change the safety of the stadiums forever
The investigation that followed the disaster led to a change in the legislation to improve security on football pitches. It was forbidden to build new wooden stands, the wooden stands that existed in stadium stands were closed, while smoking was banned in the wooden stands that still existed then in several stadiums, in all categories.