On Saturday 11th May 1985, 11,000 football fan had gathered to watch a football match between Bradford City and Lincoln city. At 15:40 hours that day a small fire was noticed at the back of the Sunwin Stand. The play was continuing, but the fire was also spreading. The commentator mentioned the fire but then resumed commentary on the match, oblivious to the seriousness of the situation. People were simply being moved away from the area of the fire, and fire fighting equipment was requested, but everything else seemed calm. About 30 seconds later the fire was growing and the people at the end of the stand where the blaze was had started to move onto the pitch and so the game was stopped. The people at the other end of the stand simply sat where they were, unaffected by what was happening.
Within a short time the roof of the stadium had combusted into flames and the people at the other end of the stand suddenly began to panick. People were unable to get onto the safety of the pitch in time, 56 people lost their lives and 265 were taken to hospital with serious injuries. Many of the dead were the young and elderly, crushed in the stampede to get to safety. Others died in the flames.
This video is so shocking and upsetting, that it is only used for fire safety exercises and is banned from view to the general public. When I watched it, I was horrified at how unnecessary the deaths were. If only people had reacted when they first saw the fire, and made their way onto the pitch, nobody would have been killed. Even though the footage is almost 20 years old, and I knew the result, as I watched, I still found myself urging people to do something when the flames could first be seen.
There were a number of upsetting factors of the video. An elderly man, who like the rest, hadn’t initially thought that he was in danger, could be seen desperately trying to climb over the seats to the front of the stand and on to the pitch. When he got about half way his clothes had begun to catch fire. He suddenly realised that he was going to make it, just gave up, and waited to die
Another upsetting feature was that, as many people were dying, or about to die, the rest of the crowd who were on the pitch didn’t realise this. They were still singing and chanting football songs, and many were jumping in front of the cameras, trying to get there faces on television. That rejoicing soon went quiet, as reality dawned.
One thing that struck me however was the efforts of one police officer. He had been near to the area of the fire and had realised the seriousness of the situation. He could be seen near to the start of the incident, frantically trying to wave people towards the pitch, towards safety. However, people didn’t seem to be listening to him, it was as if they felt safe in the crowd that they were in. However a number did listen, they went towards the pitch, and they were saved.
When was reading Isaiah chapter 6, it struck me that police officer job was not dissimilar to Isaiah’s. Just like Isaiah he had seen the danger and the coming destruction if the people didn’t act, was desperately trying to guide the people to safety. But just like in Isaiahs day, they thought that they were safe in the crowd and only a few listened. Because of this, unnecessary destruction was ...
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