A MIDNIGHT blaze destroyed allotments in a Northumberland town, claiming the lives of a flock of pigeons and leaving owners devastated.
Police and fire services were called to the allotments on Bolam Avenue, beside Blyth Sports Centre, at around 4.30am yesterday.
Six fire engines were on scene for a number of hours bringing the blaze under control.
Police later arrested two men, aged 43 and 39, in connection with the fire who are being questioned by officers.
Distraught allotment owner Davey Rae said he lost his prized stock pigeons in the fire, which he said claimed 10 plots.
“The damage is devastating from what we can see, it looks like a bomb site,” said 59-year-old Davey, of Blyth.
“There was another fire a fortnight ago, and the one this morning was just another part of the whole allotments.
“I have lost my pigeons and the allotment is destroyed.”
The grandfather-of-two, who has had his plot for around 40 years, said he lost more than 100 racing pigeons in the previous fire and said yesterday the fire claimed 16 pairs of his stock pigeons, which are special breeding pigeons.
“I think in the two fires the value of all the pigeons was about £25,000,” said Davey, who lives with wife Brenda. “The stock pigeons were my main ones, and I am totally devastated.
“The allotment is my pride and joy.”
The welder, a father-of-three, was told just before 6am yesterday of the damage caused by the fire and said it had been hard to get his head around. But he said he was glad the police were investigating.
“I’m happy the police are looking into it and hopefully something will come of it,” he said.
Neighbourhood Insp Dave Harris said: “We’re working to establish exactly what has happened and there are two people in custody who are helping with our enquiries.
“Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to get in touch with police as soon as possible.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At 4.28am this morning, police received a report of a fire at allotments at Bolam Avenue.
“Police and the fire and rescue service attended and the fire was extinguished. No-one was injured in the incident.
“An investigation will be carried out into the cause of the fire in due course.”
Fire crews and police in Northumberland also dealt with a suspected arson after two people had to be rescued from their home when a wheelie bin was set alight and the fire spread to the house.
The emergency services were called to a home in Portia Street in Ashington shortly after 3am yesterday, and two people were rescued from a first-floor window by the fire crews and taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Neighbouring properties were evacuated as a precaution.
Fire investigators are working to establish the cause of the fire. However, police believe the fire was started deliberately and are treating it as arson.
Anyone with information about either incident contact police on 101 ext 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555 111.