Associated Press 21 May 1985: Survivors Say Unlikely Smoke Bomb Started Fire

BRADFORD, England (AP) _ A re-enactment of the May 11 soccer stadium fire by a group of survivors showed it was unlikely that a smoke bomb started the grandstand blaze that killed 53 people, police said today.

Bradford City Fire”While the operation was not totally conclusive, it does considerably weaken the theory that a missile was thrown into ‘G’ block where the fire started,” said Detective Supt. Kevin Cooper.

Cooper, who is heading the police investigation of the May 11 disaster, said he could not comment further on the cause of the fire.

Police say the fire at Bradford’s Valley Parade stadium started in the right side of the main grandstand’s ”G” block. It engulfed the 79-year-old timber structure within four minutes.

One witness, Ian Trueman, a reporter for London’s Daily Star newspaper, said he saw hooligans throw smoke bombs into the grandstand, starting the fire.

Bradford police confirmed smoke bombs were thrown during the game but never said they caused the fire. Another witness has said it was started by a carelessly discarded cigarette.

Cooper said 69 survivors re-enacted the tragedy Sunday night in the assembly hall of the Bradford police station. He would not say what emerged from the re-enactment to make it appear unlikely a smoke bomb was involved.

The survivors had on the same clothes they wore on the day of the game and sat in the same places they occupied, in chairs arranged in grandstand fashion. The group told police what they did when the fire broke out.

Police took a video film of the re-enactment for use by a coroner’s inquest.

Mohammed Ajeeb took office as lord mayor of Bradford today, the first Asian-born person to hold such an office in Britain. In his acceptance speech in Bradford City Hall, he paid tribute to the fire victims, saying, ”We are a city united in grief. Class, creed and race does not divide us.”

Ajeeb, 47, was born in Chatro, Kashmir, which was divided between India and Pakistan.