ARSONISTS have destroyed the former home of a Widnes amateur rugby league club.

Six fire engines were needed to tackle the blaze at St Maries, which is behind Widnes rugby union club, Heath Road, as the building burned for several hours.

Witnesses said they could see smoke from more than two miles away after the fire started on Thursday at 4.45pm and residents living in the Hough Green and Cronton area reported smelling smoke.

The road was closed at the junction with Prescott Road while the railway line between Widnes and Hough Green was also heavily affected by smoke.

Cheshire Fire said the building was ‘well alight’ within minutes and it took around two hours to get the flames under control.

Crews also stayed throughout the night to dampen down the area.

The club had been home to Widnes St Maries ARLFC but the club closed on June 30 this year and became St Maries Vikings playing out of the Stobart Stadium.

A police spokesman said: “Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service advised local residents to shut doors and windows and trains were going slowly past the incident due to smoke crossing over the line.

“No-one was injured as a result of the fire but there was extensive damage to the building.

“It is believed that the fire was started deliberately and police are currently carrying out a number of lines of enquiry.”

Anyone with information should call Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 698 of August 16 or call anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.