TWO lifelong pigeon racers have been left devastated after arsonists torched their allotment killing almost 60 prized birds.
Brothers John and Paul Llewellyn only completely finished rebuilding their pigeon loft late last year after it was previously destroyed in a fire on the site in 2005.
But yesterday the pair faced heartache again when they received a call to say their allotment in the Chester Road site had gone up in flames in the early hours.
They arrived shortly afterwards to find the scene of destruction and were devastated to discover all of their pigeons at the allotment had been killed.
Police and fire officers have now launched a joint investigation and say they are treating the incident as an arson attack.
Gutted Paul, 50, who lives in St David’s Walk, Hartlepool, said: “Whoever is responsible is scum. It’s just devastating, I’ve been racing pigeons since I could walk, as long as I can remember. But I think I will be calling it a day now.”
Paul, a dad-of-five who is a member of Hartlepool West End Pigeon Club, added: “It was only a few years ago when this happened to us. Our new loft has only been up about two months and now it’s happened again, it’s heart-breaking.”
Around 30 stock pigeons and 28 young racing pigeons were killed in the blaze, which broke out at around 2am yesterday.
Firefighters from Stranton Station spent around an hour tackling the fire.
Paul and John, 52, were then called by a fellow allotment holder at around 9am yesterday when they were told the bad news.
John, a dad-of-five who lives in Thomson Grove, Hartlepool, said: “We were the breeding the young pigeons to race this year.
“To find out that they have all been killed is just awful, it’s devastating.
“They’re our pride and joy, so is the allotment and you can’t put a price on how much this has cost us, it’s thousands of pounds.”
Police officers visited the site yesterday.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We received reports from the fire brigade about a fire at an allotment in Chester Road, in Hartlepool.
“An arson investigation is now underway.
“We are looking at CCTV footage and carrying out house-to-house enquiries.”
Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.