AN arson suspect arrested in connection with a pigeon loft blaze which killed up to 200 birds will not face charges.
The 27-year-old was questioned by police shortly after the fire at Humbledon and Plains Farm Allotments, off Premier Road, Sunderland.
Three lofts were destroyed and prized birds worth an estimated £20,000 died in the inferno.
Two fire crews spent almost two hours dealing with the blaze in April.
Today, Northumbria Police confirmed that the man, arrested on suspicion of arson, had been released without charge after answering bail.
A force spokeswoman said: “The 27-year-old man will face no further action.”
Pigeon fanciers, who estimated that between 150 to 200 birds were killed in the fire, were left stunned by the attack.
They maintain that the blaze was started deliberately.
Brian Robinson, 52, or Thorney Close, was in the nearby working men’s club when he heard about the fire.
“By the time we got to it, the fire brigade was there and it was too late to save the pigeons,” he said.
“A lot of the young ones had been completely burnt up and the lofts were a mess.
“There must have been between 150 and 200 pigeons.
“The fire was starting to spread to my loft, but thankfully it was put out before it got there.
“But three of the lofts were completely destroyed and a storage shed was damaged.”
Oil rig worker Brian, who has been racing pigeons since 1987, said there was evidence that the firebugs has returned overnight to launch a second attack on the lofts.
“There were embers actually inside one of the other lofts, which I came across after the police and the fire brigade had left,” said the dad-of-two. “At first, we thought that it was maybe kids messing around with fire and it got a bit out of hand.
“But we’re certain that they’ve actually broken into the buildings and tried to kill the pigeons.”