Remembering the Bradford City Valley Parade Fire

In the wake of the 32nd Anniversary of the Bradford City Valley Parade fire, we remember the 56 football fans that lost their lives, and why it is so important to be aware of fire safety and how quickly a fire can spread.


When a fire began in the grounds of Bradford City football club on 11 May 1985, it was not immediately apparent to anyone how serious it could be, yet within four minutes the stands in which the fire had begun had been engulfed in flames and left a burnt out shell. The tragedy claimed the lives of 56 football fans and injured over 250 people.



The stand that the fire devouredwas a wooden structure, which explains why the flames spread so quickly. It is thought that someone dropped a cigarette or match underneaththe stand, which then began to spread beginning the initial flames. Underneath the stand would have been various debris and rubbish from past matches, including newspapers, which would have fed the fire and helped it to spread. As the fire reached spectators from underneath many felt their feet growing warm at first, before the fire began to rapidly escalate, reaching the roof in no time.

There were no fire extinguishers, and although the fire brigade was called, by the time they reached the scene the fire had devoured the stand.



A certain level of confusion can be seen on footage of the day, with people pointing at the fire before it had really begun to take hold and people realised how serious it was. In the words of Bradford fan David Pendleton, ‘For the first minute people were laughing and joking, it wasn’t anything serious. And then suddenly, in the space of 120-odd seconds, it really kicked in. How quickly the fire spread is difficult to convey to people’.


One thing we can learn from this, in the hope of preventing further tragedies, is that you never know how far or how quickly a fire can spread. You should always get yourself out of harms way as quickly as possible and remember that the smoke from a fire can be just as lethal as the flames.



The annual memorial held for the 56 fans is a way of remembering them every year and honouring their memory. Although it is sometimes thought of as the ‘forgotten tragedy’ those who lost their lives in the fire will never be forgotten.