Scout hut torched in Sheffield
Arsonists have destroyed a Scout hut in Sheffield, causing £30,000 of damage.
Firebugs also targeted another Scout hut, where a brick was thrown through the window and a burnt rag was found inside.
Both attacks took place at the Hesley Wood Scout Activity Centre, on White Lane, in Chapeltown, which is used by thousands of young people every year.
Scout leaders have spoken of their disgust as police hunting the culprits today appealed for witnesses.
The first attack took place at Jubilee Lodge, where firefighters were called to a huge blaze which reduced the building to ashes on Monday, June 17, at around 3.30pm.
It is estimated that the hut will cost around £30,000 to replace and although the damage is covered by insurance, it could be a year before it is built.
The following evening, Tuesday, June 18, a window was smashed at The Royston, which is the centre’s newest building and can sleep 34 people. A burnt piece of cloth was later found inside, following what police believe was an attempted arson attack.
South Yorkshire Police said the culprits are believed to have headed towards the nearby Trans Pennine Trail as they fled the scene.
The centre boasts 132 acres of fields and picturesque woodland for people to explore and try their hand at activities including canoeing and climbing.
It is used by Scouts from across the country as well as Guides and school groups, and has hosted numerous charity events including the popular Mud Madness run in aid of Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice.
Andy McAteer, media manager for South Yorkshire Scouts, said people were sickened by the attacks, which meant young people would lose out.
“What’s happened is awful, and sadly it’s just the latest in a long list of issues we’ve had with vandalism at Hedley Wood, including people repeatedly trying to break into vending machines at the centre,” he said.
“It means people are having to focus on repairing the damage and increasing security, leaving them with less time to organise fun activities for young people and give them a great week or weekend away.
“We're trying to provide fun and adventure for young people, and equip them with new skills for life, but these arson attacks are taking away from that, which is very disappointing.”
The centre remains open, though access to one of the fields near the destroyed hut has been restricted for safety reasons.
Mr McAteer added that nobody had been in danger at any time during either incident and the camp remained perfectly safe to use.
Anyone with information, especially those who were in the area on June 17 or 18 and saw or heard anything suspicious, is asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number 290 of June 18. You can also call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.