Four cars belonging to members of the Wollongong Swim Club were damaged in a fire at Olympic Park on Sunday afternoon.
The fire started in a car park near the Aquatic Centre at Homebush at about 3pm. Fairfax Media reported yesterday that 43 vehicles were destroyed and another 30 were damaged.
The Wollongong Swim Club members, aged between nine and 16, were competing in the Ryde-Carlile Challenge Cup when the fire broke out. The 28 swimmers were accompanied by more than 40 family members and supporters from the Illawarra.
They were evacuated from the centre along with 1500 other people from the complex and surrounding area.
Swim club president Col Bruton said two cars belonging to swim club members were destroyed, while two other damaged vehicles were able to be picked up and driven home yesterday on the condition they were repaired as soon as possible.
Vice president Shereen Lendvay was at the sporting complex when the fire broke out.
‘‘When we were in the centre before they evacuated us, you could hear the ‘‘boom, boom, boom’’ noises of all the tyres popping,’’ she said.
‘‘We probably heard about 10 of those before we actually decided we better start packing up and getting out.’’
Ms Lendvay said they were evacuated across the road away from the fire, with members of the swim club taking shelter out of the wind near the Novotel.
She said police started allowing people back to their cars about 6.30pm, but many members of the swim club waited to ensure everyone could get home, meaning they didn’t return to Wollongong until about 10.30pm.
Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Ian Krimmer told Fairfax Media the cause of the fire had not been determined but one possibility was that a cigarette had sparked the fire.