A pigeon club member has spoken of his devastation after 100 of his birds were killed in a suspected arson attack.
After seeing the flames from his Washington home, Bill Scott rushed to Barmston Allotments to try and save the birds he has been racing since 2009, but all perished in the fire.
Crews from Washington and Marley Park spent three hours tackling the blaze on Saturday night which saw the lofts razed to the ground.
Bill, 62, has been told that the incident, which happened at around 9pm, is being treated as suspected arson.
“It’s devastating to get there and see those birds on the ground, knowing I couldn’t get to them,” he said. “There were seventy adult birds and thirty young ones who had only just hatched.
“I live at the other side of the railway track from the allotments. I saw the smoke and could smell it, but didn’t realise it was the allotments until I looked out of the window.”
Though Bill’s birds could not be saved, his son Hayden, 22, managed to save some birds from a neighbouring loft.
The dad added: “Since I’ve left work I’m down here every day. I’m in a racing club and they are good pigeons. It’s devastating because they won’t fly at night, so even if they could get out of the loft, they wouldn’t fly, they just sit there and burn.”
He added: “I’ve been told that it was multiple fires so someone has set out to destroy the loft deliberately. I can’t bring my birds back, but I hope something can be done to stop this happening again.”
In 2012, thousands of pounds in damage was caused when fire tore through the same allotments.
The fierce blaze destroyed years of hard work by proud owners and left the ground scorched and covered in ash. On that occasion, fanciers had been able to save some of the birds.