Somerset

Wells' £160k park torched in 'suspicious' Bonfire Night blaze

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFireworks residue was found at the site, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue has said.

A children's play area has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack just days after it was opened.

Three crews from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue were called to the wooden castle playhouse in Wells Recreation Ground on Saturday night.

Fireworks residue was found on site and fire officers believe the blaze was started deliberately.

The £160,000 park opened last Sunday after four years of planning by the community and Mendip District Council.

Gavin Ellis, from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said an investigation was under way.

'Absolutely devastated'

He also said a witness saw some people using fireworks in Wells Recreation Ground before the blaze, which began shortly before 20:00 GMT.

Councillor John North, chair of the Bishops Barn and Recreation Ground Trust in Wells, said: "Initially I was incandescent with anger about this and in some ways I still am," he said.

"It took a group of people, Better Play Areas for Wells and the board of trustees four years to deliver a destination play area for Wells.

"Within six and a half days of it being opened... it's been burned down by someone.

"It was a great asset for the community, it brought families together."

Image copyright Sally Cooper
Image caption The majority of the wooden castle was destroyed in the blaze on Saturday evening

Resident Matthew Hartnett, said: "It took nine months to build, and destroyed in five minutes.

"Everyone is absolutely devastated, there's a real sense of loss to everyone, a lot of people were due to take their children there today."

The Better Play Area for Wells group said much of the play area was open, but its wooden castle will need replacing.

"The trustees will be having an emergency meeting this week to review their options," it said.

A crowd funding page has since been set up to rebuild the park.

Image copyright Cindz Shotton
Image caption The park took four years of planning and cost £160,000 to build

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites