After Hillsborough, the Bradford City FC stadium fire was the second worst sporting tragedy in England, leaving 56 dead and at least 265 injured.
The fire started five minutes before half-time during the match on 11 May between Bradford and Lincoln City. It was later established that the blaze was caused by a fan who went to put his cigarette out but dropped it between the floorboards onto a pile of rubbish that had been building up below.
Owing to windy conditions, less than four minutes later the entire wooden stand was engulfed in smoke and fire. Radiated heat from the burning roof of the stand set fire to the clothing of fans trapped underneath. People ran onto the pitch with their clothes on fire while others were trapped at the back of the stand where they had gone to try to escape through the turnstiles. By the time the fire brigade arrived they were faced with huge flames and dense smoke.
An inquiry launched in the aftermath of the disaster led to legislation to improve safety at football grounds. This included the banning of new wooden grandstands at all sports venues in the UK. All existing grandstands deemed fire risks were faced with immediate closure. Cigarette smoking was also banned at all grounds with wooden stands. The inquiry had found that the club had been warned that the accumulation of rubbish beneath the stands was a fire risk.
It transpired that the wooden stand had already been condemned and was set to be demolished just two days after the tragedy. Although there was no perimeter fencing, such as led to the devastating crush at Hillsborough, locked turnstiles meant that many fans who tried to escape by that means were killed or seriously injured.
The courts held the club to be two thirds responsible, finding that it gave “no or very little thought to fire precautions” despite repeated warnings. The local council was deemed to be one third responsible.