A FIRE that ripped through a bowls club early Wednesday morning has devastated a Valleys community.

Residents in Gilfach, Caerphilly borough reported seeing smoke coming from the corner of the Gilfach Bargoed Bowling Club at around 6.50am.

By 7am, the building was ablaze, and by 7.20am residents reported that the fire was in full force.

Multiple crews from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service attended, including from in Aberbargoed, Pontypridd and Caerphilly.

The fire appeared to have been put out, but at around midday flames reappeared in the far corner of the building – believed to be the changing rooms.

One resident said: "At 6.50am I was walking past and saw smoke. I called the fire brigade.

"It was light smoke from the corner. By 7.30am it was up."

The National Wales: The clubhouse has been damaged beyond repair after the fire at Gilfach Bargoed Bowling Club.The clubhouse has been damaged beyond repair after the fire at Gilfach Bargoed Bowling Club.

Craig Andrews, chairman of the club, said: "We've been here since 1928. Members have been to the Commonwealth Games, the world bowls championships, and have represented Wales.

"It's been the heart of the community.

"I've been coming for around 50 years. It's just so sad."

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"It's the heart of the village, " said another resident. "We were all brought up here. Even when we were young, kids would play tennis here. It's all we had really - this and the YMCA. It was used regularly.

"All the old boards on the walls have been destroyed, and all the photographs."

A fundraising page has been set up to help the club rebuild, and has raised more than £1,700 within six hours.

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