Police launch inquiry after wildlife endangered by Hartlepool park fire

Police are beginning inquiries into a park fire described as “mindless vandalism”.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 5:32 pm

Cleveland Police have confirmed they received a report about a large area of Summerhill Country Park and Outdoor Nature Reserve, off Catcote Road, Hartlepool, being burnt at 1.30 pm on Tuesday, March 23.

As much as 900 square metres of grassland, inhabited by ground nesting birds and other wildlife, has been destroyed in the incident, Summerhill said on Tuesday.

In a post on its Facebook page, the park said: "We're saddened to report that over 900m2 of grassland has been destroyed by a deliberate arson attack overnight.

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Police are investigating a fire at Summerhill Country Park and Outdoor Nature Reserve, off Catcote Road, Hartlepool.
Police are investigating a fire at Summerhill Country Park and Outdoor Nature Reserve, off Catcote Road, Hartlepool.

"It is particularly distressing as the area is inhabited by ground nesting birds and other wildlife.”

Cleveland Police have said no arrests have been made at this stage.

The force said in a statement: “At 1.30pm today, Tuesday, police received a report that a large area of grassland at Summerhill had been burnt, probably overnight from Monday into today.

"Initial details have been taken from the caller who believes this was a deliberate ignition and inquiries will begin.

"In the meantime, we would ask anyone with information on who may be responsible to contact Cleveland Police via the 101 number, quoting ref 45289.”

The park, which is spread over some 100 acres on the western edge of Hartlepool, suffered damage last April when three deliberate fires damaged areas of natural habitat and some fencing on the site.

Hartlepool Borough Council, which looks after the park, has condemned “the sheer mindless vandalism”.

A spokesperson said: “This latest fire is a further example of the sheer mindless vandalism that occurs on the site on a regular basis and it is something that we would utterly condemn.

“The fire has devastated a large area of grassland within woods which provides a habitat for various ground-nesting birds and other forms of wildlife.

“We would urge anyone with information about the incident to contact Cleveland Police on 101.

"We would also ask visitors to Summerhill and people living in the surrounding area to act as our eyes and ears and call the police if they spot anyone acting suspiciously on the site.”