A GLIDING society’s clubhouse has been forced to close after it was ‘extensively damaged’ by a fire.

A fire broke out in the clubhouse at Lasham Gliding last month in the early hours of the morning.

Patrick Naegeli, chairman of the society, said in a statement: “No one was injured, and the fire brigade attended the incident promptly and in force. Thanks to their efforts the fire was extinguished before it spread too far.

“There is, however, extensive smoke and water damage throughout the clubhouse, which together with damaged wiring in the roof space, mean that the clubhouse will be out of use for a considerable period of time.”

An initial investigation carried out by the fire service suggested the blaze was caused by an electrical fault in the kitchen.

Staff at Lasham Gliding have been working to allow flying to continue at the airfield.

Mr Naegeli said he was grateful to those who had offered to help with the clear-up following the fire.

He said: “We are very grateful for all expressions of support, and as soon as we know what we need to do we will be reaching out appropriately.”

He added: “It is too early to say how long it will take to get things back to normal – but we have to be prepared for the prospect of many months of disruption. We are, therefore, working on contingency plans for social/catering/bar operations – we are aiming to keep as much of Lasham going as we can while we sort the clubhouse out.”

Lasham airfield opened in 1942 and Lasham Gliding Society is now one of the largest gliding clubs in the world, with more than 220 gliders based there.

The airfield is in constant use throughout the year and regularly hosts national and regional gliding championships.

The Flight Deck Café operates from the clubhouse.