Racing pigeons perished after a blaze started by arsonists ripped through a Sheffield allotment - and other owners fear they will be targeted next.
Fire tore through garden spaces behind Penrith Road, Shirecliffe, claiming the lives of dozens of valuable birds.
Firefighters worked for hours to control the blaze, started deliberately, which swept through two pigeon coops and involved propane cylinders.
A police investigation has been launched, while all that remains at the allotment are charred remains and the badly-damaged lofts the birds once called home. Locals say this is not the first time pigeon-keepers and allotment owners have been the subject of vandalism or arson attacks.
A resident of Penrith Road raised the alarm after spotting flames and smoke from his home.
The 44-year-old man, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s a terrible shame. I’ve got pigeons myself. I’ve had them all my life, but I keep them in my back yard because of what happens.
“They can be worth a lot of money and people down there spend a lot of time on their gardens.
“I know the owner and I know he’ll be devastated.
“They did it to me once - I came out and all my pigeons had been beheaded.
“People are frightened they might be next.”
A 17-year-old man, who was tending to one of the Penrith Road allotments for his father, added: “It happens a lot down here. There have been three burned out.”
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters had quickly established the incident in the early hours of Sunday was an arson attack.
While dozens of pigeons died, the crew’s efforts helped to save around 100 more.
Sheffield station manager Simon Dunker said: “The crews did a brilliant job. The fire was very difficult to access and they had to lay out around 10 lengths of hose to reach it.
“Several dozen pigeons were killed but crews did very well to stop the fire spreading.”