Arsonists strike again

Green Lane allotment committe members, John Agar (front) and Michael Purvis who have been helping with the clear up after a fire''w112108
Green Lane allotment committe members, John Agar (front) and Michael Purvis who have been helping with the clear up after a fire''w112108

CRUEL firebugs have torched three allotments in Whitby, killing dozens of pet ferrets and hens just two weeks after another devastating arson attack took place at an allotment elsewhere in the town.

Firefighters and police were called to Green Lane allotments – which have been a part of the town’s history for 100 years – in the early hours of Wednesday morning where they found three sheds and a temporary building used by the allotment committee well alight.

The fire, which is being treated as suspicious, started in a shed where 20 ferrets were being kept and was so fierce, eyewitnesses said the flames could be seen from across the town and even two miles out to sea.

Crews from Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay tackled the blaze which killed 15 ferrets belonging to one allotment holder who is currently away on holiday, and left around seven hens, belonging to another man, dead.

Firefighters rescued the surviving animals – five hens who suffered burnt fur and feathers and the remaining ferrets – which were left shaking and traumatised and may not survive.

All were checked out at the scene by a local vet. The blaze has left allotment holders devastated and fearing something similar could happen again.

Treasuer of the Green Lane Allotment committee, John Agar, was told about the fire when a policeman knocked on his door at around 2.30am that morning.

He said: “The flames were out when I got there but there was an awful lot of smoke. The fire took a lot of putting out.

“It’s just despicable. I’ve been here 18 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.

“The hens were running loose and two firemen had to rugby tackle them to catch them.

“We have had fires before but we’ve never had anything happen like this.

“The allotment holder who owns the hens came about 4am.

“It’s his grandson’s allotment, although he’s the tenant, and he’s disgusted about what’s happened.

“The lad was quite upset.

“He’s been very keen and has been three years building the allotment up and doing all the work.

“They were going to bury the carcasses of the hens.

“I can’t think of any reason why anyone would do something this.

“Everyone who has been helping out after what happened has been very upset.

“It’s shaken everyone up here.”

The news comes after the Whitby Gazette reported last Friday how arsonists doused a pet chicken in petrol and burned it alive in a campaign of violence which is being waged against another allotment holder at nearby Spital Bridge.

Police say they do not know if the incidents are linked but scenes of crimes officers were sent to the allotments at Green Lane to look for evidence.

Mr Agar added none of the allotments were thought to be insured and he is urging residents and fellow allotment holders in the area to be vigilant for anything suspicious.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forwards and contact them on (0845) 6060247.

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