Pavilion gutted in second arson attack
ARSONISTS burned down a brand new £70,000 sports pavilion just weeks before it was due to open.
The building in Queens Park, Caterham, was torched late on Saturday night. It had been rebuilt after the previous one was deliberately burned down in 2004.
Residents were awoken by the flames, which climbed to about 50 feet.
Fire crews from Reigate, Godstone and Purley fought the blaze into the early hours of Sunday morning.
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Anne Smith, of Wood Lane, said: "We were horrified. My neighbour rang because she thought it was our garden when she saw the flames.
"The club is quite close to home and the flames were certainly going quite high. I am sure it was arson, it is very shocking.
"They had more or less finished it, someone must have been watching and waiting to do it. It is just wanton vandalism."
The fire gutted the unfurnished wooden pavilion which is shared by Caterham Cricket Club and Caterham School, who paid for the new building. It was due to open within weeks.
Club member Colin Mico said: "Everyone has been devastated. It was our pride and joy.
"Everyone was I think doubly shocked because it has happened before, we went through all this in 2004.
"It is an attack on us and without any good reason – we've not upset anyone locally. It does make you feel somewhat vulnerable."
The burning timbers also singed the nearby cricket nets, which had been set up on a community Cricket Force day on April 29 to prepare the club for the upcoming season.
Community and club members expressed their anger at the loss of the building, which was to have provided shelter for players during the cricket season, along with providing a changing room for the women's lacrosse team that also uses the pitch.
Local resident David Vickerstaff said: "We went to bed, the curtains were drawn and the wife spotted the flickering so we looked out of the window and it was going.
"The flames were huge.
"The last pavilion was burned down, too. This area gets targeted. It is a shame they couldn't save it."
Julian Thomas, Caterham School head teacher, added: "It was obviously a facility that had been created for use by the local community and the school. The facility has been taken away by some mindless act of vandalism."
Surrey Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which they are treating as suspicious. They would like to trace four children seen in the area earlier the same day. They are three boys, one who was wearing a burgundy hoodie, and a girl with long blonde hair who was wearing a peach top.
If you have information, call police on 101.