A PIGEON fancier told of his devastation after 28 of his birds were torched to death in a suspected arson attack.
Fire gutted a caravan at a plot within East View Allotments in Boldon Colliery during the early hours of yesterday morning.
The flames spread to a nearby pigeon cree – killing all but four of the birds inside.
Today the owner of the pigeons, Billy Miller, 45, was assessing the damage at the allotment.
He said: “I got a call just after six o’clock yesterday morning. Twenty- six of the young ones and a couple of old ones were killed. They didn’t stand a chance. The fire brigade got here and managed to get four of the birds out alive.
“It’s horrible but it’s not that big a surprise, it’s the second time recently pigeons have been killed.
“Just a month ago, a cree was targeted just along from here and another couple of allotments have been broken into.
“There’s always kids riding around here on bikes, with their hoodies up. They just jump over the wall, it’s not that high.
“I have a separate aviary with four birds in, that was unaffected, but this is a huge blow.”
Mr Miller has been racing pigeons for just two years and is a member of Boldon Homing Society.
His brother John, 49, who helps out at the allotment, added: “The caravan was quite old, it was just somewhere to sit, and wasn’t worth that much but you can’t put a price on the pigeons.
“I’d like to think whoever did this was ashamed of themselves, but they’re probably not.”
In January, several chickens and a goose were killed after fire ripped through another plot at the East View Allotments.
But firefighters used an oxygen mask to revive one chicken caught up in the blaze.
Firefighters from South Shields Fire Station attended the blaze just before 6am.
The police are now investigating.