TWENTY birds perished during what it believed to be an arson attack on a Sunderland pigeon cree.
Firecrews were called to the allotment site near Southwick Road where the wooden building was well alight in the early hours of this morning.
The firefighters managed to stop the spread of the fire through the cree, saving the lives of a further 20 pigeons and a dog.
Watch Manager Steven Bewick, of Fulwell fire station, said eight firemen tackled the fire, but half of the 3ft by 10ft pigeon cree was completely destroyed.
He said: “The 20 birds had already died before we got there, but there were about another 20 and a dog in a kennel at the other side of the cree which were still alive. We managed to stop the fire from spreading to them.
“The owner arrived on scene while we were there and he was obviously not very happy. It is suspected malicious intent and its a real shame when it is someone’s hobby.”