A FIRE that destroyed a popular Armidale nightclub was deliberately lit, the owners claim.
Investigations into the suspicious blaze that razed The Armidale Club are continuing but the owners have been told it was arson.
“It was a deliberate act,” Kate Richards told The Armidale Express.
“The weekend was really dark, I just thought ‘Who has done this to us?’ and I think the not knowing was just, oh my god.”
Ms Richards said the police response had been amazing.
“[After the fire] they guarded the scene for four days, they got the guys from Sydney up, they got an explosives dog from Sydney to come up,” she said.
Fire crews rushed to The Armidale Club on September 16 at 5:30am after reports of a blaze.
There was little they could do as the flames had taken hold.
Fire destroyed parts of the roof and caused road closures between Taylor and Marsh Streets.
Three weeks later the building remains cordoned off to the public.
Inside, the roof is caved in at the front of the building and smashed bottles covered in ash lay scattered across the floor.
As Ms Richards picked through the charred remains of the club that once thrived, she set aside glasses and furniture miraculously untouched by the flames.
Ms Richards said she still had not fully accepted what had happened.
"Honestly, the worst thing for me apart from all the work that we’d done and the struggle to get that licence over the line was that I was never going to complete it, I was never going to finish the project,” she said.
“I think the other thing was that I felt like it happened on our watch, we’ve got nothing to do with it.”
Ms Richards said that The Armidale Club would have to find a new home.
“We just need to find a new home, we need to find a new home because this can’t be it any more,” she said.
In the meantime the club will go on tour, hosted by different venues across town.
“After we came out of the fog and thought, ‘Okay, well we need to be trading, we need to get back on the horse,’ we did go and have a look at some other venues to see about a permanent arrangement but that’s going to be a longer process,” Ms Richards said.
The owners hope to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Monday.
The Armidale Golf Club will host the party on Saturday night.
The Express has contacted New England police for comment but is awaiting a response.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner who will investigate the blaze because of the damage bill.
The case will be heard at Armidale Local Court on November 11.
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