The Bradford City stadium fire was the worst fire disaster in the history of football. It occurred during a league match in front of record numbers of spectators, on Saturday, 11 May 1985, killing 56 and injuring at least 265.
The Valley Parade stadium, long-established home to Bradford City Football Club, had been noted for its antiquated design and facilities, including the wooden roof of the main stand. Warnings had also been given about a major build-up of litter just below the seats. The stand had been officially condemned and was due for demolition.
The match against Lincoln City had started in a celebratory atmosphere, with the home-team receiving the Football League Third Division trophy. At 3.40 pm, a small fire was reported by TV commentator John Helm, but in less than four minutes, in windy conditions, it had engulfed the whole stand, trapping some people in their seats. In the panic that ensued, fleeing crowds had to break down locked exits to escape, and many were burnt to death at the turnstiles, which were also locked. There were many cases of heroism, with more than fifty people receiving police awards or commendations.
The disaster led to new safety standards in UK football grounds, including the banning of new wooden grandstands.
Bradford City continues to support the Burns Unit at Bradford Royal Infirmary as its official charity. [source]