Pictures Show Flames Ripping Through Historic British Landmark in Arson Attack
May 17, 2020 - In the UK, heartless arsonists have set a historic landmark alight after it was restored only last year.
Police are investigating after Dunston Staiths, a Grade II listed structure in Gateshead, near Newcastle, was engulfed by flames in the early hours on Saturday.
Thought to be Europe's largest timber structure, it has stood over the river Tyne since 1893 and was built so Durham coal could be dropped into boats for transportation, the Daily Star reports.
Pictures show the towering structure, and once-proud symbol of the county's coal industry, swallowed by huge orange flames.
Crews from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service were called to the scene at around 2.30am and worked all through the night trying to bring the horrific blaze under control.
But sadly, the structure caught fire again later in the morning.
It comes after locals spent months fundraising to restore the Staiths last year, which had fallen into disrepair after the decline of the coal industry and suffered damage in a fire last year.
The landmark then became a visitor attraction, and was also used to host public events such as markets.
One heartbroken local says its loss has left him feeling "angry" and "numb".
Andrew Smith, from the Friends of the Staiths group, says he watched through the night as the fire crews fought against the flames.
Estimating that the damage will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair, he believes the blaze began on the upper of the structure's two decks.
Smith, a teacher, said: "Initially I was really angry because we put so much time and effort in as a group, having had to fundraise after a previous attempt.
"But after watching the fire crews, me and another volunteer didn't say anything, I was just numb.
"After seeing the sunrise, and it was so beautiful, I started to think: 'We will deal with this, one step at a time."
Northumbria Police say they are treating the fire as a deliberate act of arson.
Detective Inspector Andy Gimza said: "This fire has caused a significant amount of damage to this historic monument.
"This incident sadly comes after months of fundraising to restore the structure following a fire in 2019.
"At present we're treating this as a deliberate act of vandalism, so a criminal investigation has been launched.
"If you saw anyone suspicious in the area of the Staiths late Friday night or early Saturday morning, please get in touch."
Tweeting pictures from the scene, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: "As you can see from these photos, the fire at Dunston Staiths was extremely serious.
"Put simply, deliberate fires put people at risk.
"If you have any information about this incident contact @northumbriapol on 101."
Locals have been asked to check CCTV for any footage which could help locate those who started the blaze.
Anyone with information is asked to visit the 'Report an Incident' section of the Northumbria Police website or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Police are treating the fire as arson.
Fire crews worked through the night to tackle the blaze.
The blaze broke out in the early hours on Saturday.
The Grade II listed structure was a symbol of the county's coal industry.
The landmark was previously a visitor attraction.