Cleaners Sued Over Riverside Fire

Esporta claim negligence and want £31 million

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Scene of total devastation in March 2006 at what used to be the Riverside Health Club

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The Esporta Group is claiming £31 million damages from a cleaning company which it claims was responsible for the Riverside Club burning down.

The luxury health club was completely destroyed by a massive fire in March 2006 and has yet to reopen. The owners claim that one of the cleaners employed by Ecocleen and its franchisee Service World left inflammable material near a stove in the women's sauna and it was this that was the catalyst for the blaze.

A High Court writ, which has been brought by Esporta Group, and its sister companies Riverside Racquet Centre and Riverside Chiswick, acknowledges that the cleaning team leader discovered the fire and raised the alarm.

There were five cleaners on the premises on the night of the fire and once the duty manager left at 11pm they were the only people there. The stove in the ladies sauna had not been switched off overnight and it is alleged that one of the cleaners left a combustible fluid nearby. No trace was found due to the intensity of the fire.

Team leader, Edison Torres saw flames near the stove at about 2.40am and the fire quickly spread. Esporta says the Ipswich based Ecocleen and Farnham based Service World were negligent as they failed to have appropriate procedures to minimise risk.

Robert Legge, managing director of Ecocleen, is quoted as saying, "The cause of the fire at Esporta has not been established and Ecocleen and Service World are contesting fully the claim that has been brought. Ecocleen and Service World categorically deny responsibility for the fire and have served a full defence and counterclaim in legal action brought by Esporta."

The £31 million being asked for is made up of £12 million for the buildings destroyed, £7 million for contents, £11 million for lost profits and £1 million for increased ongoing costs,

Rebuilding work on the club continues and it is scheduled to reopen at some point this year.


January 13, 2008