THE site of the former Belmont Sporties Club has gone up in flames overnight, with a derelict structure completely collapsing during the 'suspicious fire'.
Emergency services were called to the Maude Street property just before 11pm on Sunday.
Four NSW Fire and Rescue crews from Belmont and Tingira Heights raced to the scene but the building, understood to be the site of the bowling club, was already engulfed in flames when they arrived.
"We watched the building collapse and put a lot of water on it," a spokesman for NSW Fire and Rescue said.
"It completely collapsed onto the ground. The fire finished about 1.30am Monday."
Loud strange noises and the smell of the burning building woke many local residents including Lara Prothero.
"When I woke up I thought that it was just some kids playing with fireworks or something I could just hear this popping noise" she said.
"I got up after a bit because my car was out the front and I didn't want anything to happen to it and when I looked outside I saw the old Belmont club alight.
"I called Triple-0 straight away and they were quick to attend the scene. The bulk of the fire was out within 30 minutes but the roof had collapsed."
The cause of the fire is under investigation and NSW Police forensic crews were expected on site on Monday.
No one was injured during the fire. Police are treating the incident as suspicious.
Anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious between 10pm and 11pm in the nearby area or who may have CCTV or dashcam footage is encouraged to contact Belmont police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The well-known Lake Macquarie venue closed its doors in 2018, after ongoing financial trouble saw the club fold and the site subdivided. The former main Sporties club building has since been leased out to multiple businesses for use, including a security training agency and a church, all of which survived the fire.
Last year developers applied to Lake Macquarie Council to turn the site into an aged care facility. The fire was on the neighbouring lot, which is mainly the former club's bowling greens, owned by Arcare Pty Ltd - an aged care provider in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. According to the most recent reports this part of the site has DA approval for 42 independent seniors living units. Newcastle Herald approached Arcare for comment.
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