BBC News Report from 1985

Bradford City stand after the fire1985: Fans killed in Bradford stadium fire

At least 52 people are known to have died and many are missing after fire engulfed the Bradford City football stadium.

Hundreds of people are in hospital suffering from burns. Most of the dead are children or elderly people crushed in the rush to escape the inferno.

Only one of the victims has been identified so far. He was former club chairman Samuel Firth, aged 86, who died in hospital from burns.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. The smoke was choking. You could hardly breathe”

Geoffrey Mitchell, survivor

The tragedy has sent shockwaves around the world. The Queen, the Pope, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and church leaders have sent messages of condolence to a city in mourning.

The match began in an atmosphere of celebration as Bradford City, who had just been promoted to the second division, were about to play Lincoln City watched by more than 11,000 fans.

Just before kick-off Bradford City captain Peter Jackson was presented with the Third Division Championship trophy.

Five minutes before half time at 3.40pm a small fire was noticed three rows from the back of G block in the Valley Parade ground and fire-fighting equipment was requested.

Within minutes flames were visible and police started to evacuate people in the stand.

But the blaze spread very rapidly – within four minutes the whole of the roof and the wooden stands below were on fire and police struggled to save those who were too stunned or weak to escape.

One survivor spoke of the horror that he witnessed. “It spread like a flash,” said 46-year-old Bradford City fan Geoffrey Mitchell. “I’ve never seen anything like it. The smoke was choking. You could hardly breathe.

“There was panic as fans stampeded to an exit which was padlocked. Two or three burly men put their weight against it and smashed the gate open. Otherwise I would not have been able to get out.”

There is still no clue as to the cause of the fire.

The origin of this story is located here.