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3 May 2017, 10:02 | Updated: 3 May 2017, 10:07
10 high-value racing pigeons have died, and £5000 worth of damage was done after a fire in Gateshead
At around 1.25pm on Monday afternoon (1/5) police received a report from Tyne and Wear Fire Service of a fire off Cobden Street in the Mount Pleasent area of the town.
Emergency services found pigeon crees and sections of the allotment were on fire. It was brought under control before it was eventually extinguished.
The majority of racing pigeons housed in the crees managed to escape, but around 10 were killed.
Further fire damage to buildings on the allotment means the total cost of the blaze is estimated at around £5,000.
Police and the fire service are treating the incident as suspicious.
Now investigating officers are appealing for help from the public and want to hear from anyone who saw anyone in the area around lunchtime on Monday.
Neighbourhood Inspector Mick Robson said: "This fire has caused a significant amount of damage and investigations are well underway to find out how this happened.
"Sadly a number of racing pigeons were killed as a result of the fire which has understandably been very distressing for the owner.
"The fire has also caused a significant amount of damage and at this stage it does appear that there could have been some malicious intent.
"We want to speak to anyone who was in the area of the allotments on Monday morning who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area concerned."
Group Manger, David Leach, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Incidents of this nature are extremely unpleasant for everyone involved.
“We are working with the police to investigate what has happened but in order to reduce the risk of further incidents occurring we would urge occupiers of allotments and small holdings to ensure they take reasonable security measures on their premises.”
Anyone who saw someone acting suspiciously in the area on Monday, or has information that may help the police investigation, is asked to contact officers on 101 quoting log 495 01/05/17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.