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Fire at Polish Club in Turner

Police are still determining whether the fire that gutted the kitchen and caused extensive damage to the Polish White Eagle Club in Turner on Tuesday was suspicious or not.

Club president Barbara Alwast said the club was having ''a run of bad luck'', having only just recovered from a break-in three weeks ago.

''I don't know what we're going to do, it depends on the damage,'' she said. ''We hadn't even repaired from the previous break-in because we only just got the insurance money.''

Mrs Alwast said the police do not know whether the fire was deliberately lit, but the kitchen and store room had been gutted, with extensive smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the building.

The club had planned to re-open officially on February 1, but Mrs Alwast was not sure that would be possible.

Police forensic investigators spent the day examining the premises, which required special equipment due to the presence of asbestos.


The back of the club appeared badly damaged while blackened curtains hinted at the further internal damage. Mrs Alwast also suspected

damage on the first floor with smoke stains visible on parts of the roof.

The club is a popular venue for local musicians, home to a well-known Polish restaurant and was also due to co-host the coming West Bank Festival.

''Its closure will leave a lot of people out of pocket,'' club secretary Wanda Horky said.

The Canberra Musicians Club was due to hold a concert there on Saturday and regularly uses the venue for performances.

The club's entertainment co-ordinator Nigel McRae said the venue was unlike any other in Canberra.

''The architecture is quite interesting and the atmosphere is very welcoming,'' he said. ''When people come in they just feel at home.''

Emergency services were called to the David Street club just after 2am on Tuesday, after reports of a fire.

Police found a ''significant amount of smoke'' coming from the rear of the building when they arrived on the scene.

ACT Fire & Rescue put out the fire at 2.30am but couldn't investigate due to the area being deemed unsafe.