A pensioner has “lost his world” after his pigeon loft worth £10,000 went up in flames.
Around 100 birds were killed in the blaze at Kenneth Meek’s allotment off St Cuthbert’s Close, in Hetton, in the early hours of yesterday.
The plot has been in his family for more than 50 years, with retired miner Kenneth taking it on from his father, Dixon, when he died 14 years ago, aged 85.
The grandad travelled across Europe to build up his bird collection, with many winners and top breeders among them.
The fire also claimed two other plots. Kenneth, who is married to Elizabeth, 65, said: “I came down at 8.15am to feed up and saw the gate and thought somebody had broken in.
“I came around the corner and walked straight back out.
“Everything I’ve worked for is gone now.”
Four sheds covering 56ft were wrecked by the blaze, with gardening equipment and a £500 pigeon clock also lost.
Kenneth’s son Paul, 42, who works as a doorman in Hartlepool, and is a brother to Steven, 40, said: “He’s lost the pigeons, but it’s also the sentimental things.
“There’s a stool there which was my grandad’s and reminds me of being little, it’s things like that.
“We’re absolutely devastated.
“It was his life, it was all his hard work, he put everything into it.
“He’s lost his world.”
Firefighters say the cause of the blaze was accidental, but anyone who has information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.