AN arson probe has been launched into a devastating fire at a pensioner’s allotment which destroyed the plot he has worked on for over 30 years.
Hartlepool grandad Terry Taylor says he has been left crushed following the blaze at his beloved allotment – his “sanctuary” – at the hands of mindless yobs. Cruel arsonists torched all 10 of his sheds, with the flames burning each one to the ground.
Council officials have described the damage to Terry’s allotment as “significant” and said they are doing all they can to help clear the remains.
Terry, who is too upset to bring himself to look at the damage again, held back tears and said: “I cried my eyes out when I found out.
“My heart is in my boots. Thirty years of hard work just gone, like that.
“I don’t know whether I have the strength to carry on with the way I’m feeling now.
People keep saying to me ‘it’s only a garden’, but for me it isn’t, it’s 30 years of my life.Pensioner Terry Taylor
“The damage is that horrendous I can’t face it, I can’t even go in with my family. It’s knocked me for six.”
He added: “People keep saying to me ‘it’s only a garden’, but for me it isn’t, it’s 30 years of my life.
“I don’t know who’s done it or why.”
The blaze at the allotment, which also caused damage to two adjacent gardens, happened some time from the evening of Saturday, March 7, to the morning of Sunday, March 8, when Terry had been too ill to attend the site because he was suffering from flu.
The former bus driver and inspector, who is a dad, grandad and great-grandad, said: “I used to grow cabbages and cauliflowers and all sorts of vegetables for the family.
“I’d spend hours down there every day when I’m well.
“I can’t believe it’s come to this. The people who did this want catching and something needs to be done because it’s just going to keep happening over and over again.
“A lot of the people who have allotments on here are old age pensioners and when something like this happens it’s just devastating.”
A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “The fire damage to Mr Taylor’s allotment and two adjacent allotments is significant and we fully understand the hurt it has caused.
“We are in the process of replacing the fencing to make the allotments more secure and have offered free skips to help clear up the debris.
“The council will continue to do all it can to support the allotment holders who have been affected by the fire.”
Andy Robinson, watch manager at Stranton Fire Station, said: “From our investigations it is clear that this allotment fire was started deliberately.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to stamp out arson, we are liaising closely with Cleveland Police and Hartlepool Borough Council.”
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police added: “Police were contacted by fire brigade colleagues just after 8.45am on Saturday, March 7.
“They were reporting an allotment fire.
“Officers attended and are currently treating the fire as suspicious, with inquiries ongoing.”
Anyone with information should contact the police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.