A heritage-listed RSL club in Melbourne’s north-east has been “destroyed” by fire, in a tragic turn of events just days before Anzac Day.
The fire broke out at the two-storey brick structure, built more than a century ago, on Studley Road in Ivanhoe just after 6:30am on Friday.
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) said about 25 firefighters were at the scene.
The caretaker of the building was taken to hospital as a precaution.
— Mark Watson (@designprovidenc) April 20, 2017
The grand building was built in 1913, and the RSL said on its website it was in near original condition.
“The Ivanhoe RSL has been destroyed by fire this morning,” the MFB said in a statement.
ABC TV show Doctor Blake Mysteries films at the site, which is also used by a number of community groups.
There was a regular morning yoga class underway when the fire broke out.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said it was sad news.
“Had many memories at Ivanhoe RSL, a magnificent building, icon of the north east,” he tweeted.
The Weary Dunlop Foundation, which researches and supports the health of veterans and their families, was originally funded by the RSL.
“[I] cried when I passed Ivanhoe RSL this morning — so many memories of my 21st and family celebrations there. So close to Anzac Day too,” Laura Poole tweeted.
Local resident Matt Perkins said it was a terrible sight in the lead-up to Anzac Day.
“It’s used for regular meals, functions. I know a lot of people like going there because it’s not a pokies venue,” he said.
“I know the returned soldiers are going to be pretty disappointed and the local community, the building itself [has a presence].
“It means a lot, it really does.”
Neighbouring buildings were being evacuated as a precaution due to the thick smoke.