Smoke pluming up from the side of the Parkwood Springs hills has become a common sight in Sheffield.
A sorry looking shadow of its former self, the place where half of Team GB’s Winter Olympic freestyle skiing team honed their craft, the Ski Village has become a haven for vandalism, theft, fly-tipping and arson attacks.
In fact, although a cynical exaggeration, it feels easier to report on when the Sheffield Ski Village is not on fire than when it is.
Firefighters tackled a pair of blazes at the former artificial ski slope site on Sunday, extinguishing a rubber-tyre blaze by the bottom of the slope and another at the top of the hill, near Cookswood Road.
Those fires follow a large blaze just weeks earlier when rubber from the ski-slope itself was ignited.
Such incidents have become commonplace since a playground on the site was destroyed in a suspected arson attack in March 2011.
Just a year later, on 29 April 2012, an accidental fire destroyed the main building. A bowling alley, bar and play area were completely lost and around 50 staff were made redundant as a result.
Five fire engines attended the first blaze in the early hours of the morning, pumping around 3,000 litres of water per minute onto the fire.
Days later a further fire, this time believed to have been started deliberately, destroyed a wooden hut at the top of the slope which held the controls to the ski lift.
Despite these initial incidents, it was hoped the Ski Village would be able to reopen the facilities. Indeed, the Sheffield Sharks Ski Club managed to begin training sessions again on 12 May with help from volunteers and former staff.
However, those plans were stopped when thieves stole ski lift motors and power ancillaries, making the group unable to properly and safely continue.
A third fire in three weeks was then started on 21 May 2012, partially destroying the nursery slope.
The Ski Village was no longer able to operate and was forced to permanently close following the attacks.
Since then the remainder of the site has been left to decay and has suffered significant vandalism along with spates of fly-tipping in the semi-secluded area.
Wooden outbuildings of the former ‘Adventure Mountain’ outdoor play area, containing the only remaining infrastructure at the time, were destroyed on 24 April 2013. Two teenagers, who cannot be named, were spared jail and sentenced to a 12 month referral order in August 2013 after admitting arson by adding things to a fire. They deny starting the blaze.
The seemingly annual attacks were brought up to date by the slope fire on 15 June this year and Sunday’s blazes.
One group are planning to resurrect the site though, aiming for a ‘country park in the city’ and ‘adrenaline quarter’ in the area.
Along with a dry ski slope, plans would include attractions such as a mountain bike trail and involve a number of niche sporting communities including climbing and slack-lining.
The group, called Snowsport for Sheffield and comprising of former Ski Village staff, ski enthusiasts and community partners, are looking to acquire the lease to the land from the current leaseholder. They have received messages of support from a number of former Ski Village users including the Machon brothers, Katie Summerhayes, Dom Harington and more.