Owner of nightclub damaged in fire points finger at arsonists


A NIGHTCLUB owner claimed today (Thu) that a blaze at his nightspot was started by gangsters trying to drive him out of business.

Franco Cortellessa is offering a £5,000 reward after fire and smoke badly damaged his nightclub in Livingston, West Lothian.

Police confirmed the fire at the Grand Central Club was being treated as suspicious.

Mr Cortellessa said he only opened the club a year ago and said it had been “doing really well”.

Fire crews were called to the blaze at around 5.15 this morning after a passer-by noticed smoke coming from the building.

Mr Cortellessa said: “It has been arson, it was petrol.

“We just opened a year ago and we have been doing really well but this is the second time in two months there has been a fire.

“We are going to offer a big reward for an arrest because we want it finally done.”

He added that the fire had been started “in the same way as the last one” and suspected that the same people were behind it.

Managers and bar staff were all at the scene next to Livingston North train station to help their boss clear up.

Mr Cortellessa said: “We will be open tomorrow. We have got joiners are electricians here to start working.”

A member of staff, who asked not to be named, said: “There is 20 people coming here shortly and we are going to clean it and be open tomorrow to show that they keep doing this.”

Outside the club lay the remains of tables and chairs and wall insulation, damaged by smoke, and a strong smell of petrol was in the air.

A sniffer dog which specialises in detecting accelerants had been drafted from Central Scotland fire service in to help with the investigation.

Mr Cortellessa said his club had suffered a lot of smoke damage but that the fire had only affected one corner of the room.

A police spokesman said: “Police are investigating a suspicious fire that broke out at the Grand Central club in Carmondean Road, in the Deans area of Livingston, earlier today.

“The fire broke out around 5am this morning, and we are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time, who noticed any suspicious activity, to contact police immediately.

“Anyone else with information that can assist our inquires should also get in touch.”