Fire crews praised for helping salvage Sunderland community orchard after Bonfire Night attack
Crews at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have been praised for their intervention after a new community orchard was damaged by vandals in an apparent Bonfire Night attack.
The land in Cato Street, Southwick, Sunderland, which has not been used for more than 20 years, was brought to life as trees were planted by residents and volunteers last month as part of the transformation of the area into a new community orchard.
Tyne and Wear Fire Service had been working closely with Northumbria Police and Sunderland City Council to build the community orchard as part of the SARA Project.
Crews say there was minimal disorder in the area on Bonfire weekend, a change from previous years where there had been high numbers of calls – but the community was left horrified after waking on Saturday morning, November 6 to find 23 newly planted trees had been torn from the ground.
The Service attended alongside Sunderland City Council to salvage as many of the freshly planted trees as they could and bosses say the healthy trees will be re-planted in due course.
Now, a senior firefighter at the Service has praised those who helped salvage the orchard.
Group Manager Tony Markwell, Head of Service Delivery, said “It’s such a shame that this incident has taken place especially as all of those trees are newly planted just one week ago.
“I’m glad our crews were able help save the trees and hopefully they will be rehomed somewhere where they can be looked after.
“We’ve been working so closely with the SARA project and its partners to help reduce ASB in the local area and it’s been working as we’ve seen a reduction in deliberate fire setting.”
The trees will be be rehomed in the coming weeks at Sunderland Central Community Fire Station just five minutes away from where the garden was initially planted.
Sergeant Claire Wood, of Northumbria Police, said: “I would like to thank the overwhelming majority of people who were respectful and well-behaved while enjoying the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.
“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners to tackle anti-social behaviour and ensure perpetrators are dealt with swiftly and robustly.”