Bradford City football disaster commemorated

The 25th anniversary of the Bradford City fire disaster, which left 56 football fans dead, will be marked today with a series of special events in the city.

The tragedy at the Valley Parade ground in 1985 shocked the nation.

More than 11,000 football fans had packed the stadium to watch Bradford receive the Division Three Championship trophy at the beginning of the team's match against Lincoln City.

TV cameras at the match famously captured the moments when it became clear one of the stands was on fire.

Smoke and flames then raced through the wooden structure, leaving 56 dead and around 265 people injured.

The fire began at 3.40pm, five minutes before half-time.

It is believed a spectator dropped a match or a cigarette through holes in the stand on to the rubbish which had accumulated below.

The stand was burning from end to end within four minutes.

Spectators were evacuated on to the pitch but many turned the other way only to find exit doors which were locked or toilets which provided no means of escape.

The tragedy was the first of a trio of horrific incidents which rocked football in the 1980s.

It happened just 18 days before 39 fans died in Heysel, Belgium, and four years before the Hillsborough Disaster, in Sheffield, which left 96 people dead.

The Bradford fire prompted the Popplewell inquiry which led to the introduction of new legislation at the UK's football grounds, prohibiting in particular the construction of new wooden grandstands.

But it was events at Hillsborough, in 1989, which prompted the more radical rethink of how we watch the national sport.

Events in Bradford today will include a service in Centenary Square, in the city centre, a tour by VIPs of the football ground and its Memorial Board and another service, this time in Bradford Cathedral.

Among those attending the events will be the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

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