A PIGEON breeder has been left devastated after arsonists killed dozens of his beloved birds.
Vandals set fire to a shed next to the pigeon cree on allotments at the rear of The Halfway House pub, in Southwick.
Firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from reaching adjoining buildings but were unable to save Ernie Pennock’s birds.
Ernie, 32, who works for Phillip Gibbons butcher’s, at The Green, in Southwick, said: “It was about half past nine when I got a phone call from my mate.
“I came down and tried to get in but the flames were so bad. By the time we got down here, all the birds were dead. There was one left alive – we managed to get it out but it was too late to save it.
“I had just bred them this year. They were all the young ones.”
Ernie has been left with just one bird, which was not in the cree at the time the fire started.
He added: “I have lost about 70 altogether.”
Ernie has been raising birds on the allotment for about two years.
Gas cylinders which had been left at the back of the cree by a previous tenant caused problems for firefighters and meant Ernie was not able to reach his birds.
“We had to climb the fence and get on to the roof to get the dog out, but we weren’t able to get into the shed because of the gas cylinders – they would not let us in,” he said.
Ernie believes the fire last Thursday night will cost him up to £2,000, as the cree was not insured.
He added: “It’s the cost of the shed and my birds.
“You can’t get insurance in Southwick.
“It is a high-risk area.”