Scout hut blaze leaves group devastated

A SCOUT group is today devastated after its hut was partially destroyed in a huge blaze, believed to be started deliberately.

Naomi Cassidy

A SCOUT group is today devastated after its hut was partially destroyed in a huge blaze, believed to be started deliberately.

The large fire destroyed about a third of the hut in Memorial Field, Renham Road, Saxmundham, which has been the target of vandalism in recent times.

Crews from Saxmundham and Leiston battled for more than an hour to control the flames, which broke out just after 1am on Sunday. Firefighters were on scene until around 2.30am before the area was declared safe.

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Rob Canham, Scout leader of the 1st Saxmundham Scouts, said the hut will be unusable for the near future but is determined not to let it beat them. He is currently looking for alternative venues for the group to meet.

He said: “We may have no hut for the time being, but it will not stop us doing all the normal things.

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“I am angry and upset about the fire. I have spoken to some of the Scouts and they are upset and disappointed.

“We just had new flooring put down and a new kitchen. A lot of hard work by many people and a lot of generosity by people in the town helped to get it up to this high standard and now someone has come along and done this.”

One of the rooms has been completely burnt out and the kitchen has suffered severe smoke damage. As the roof was made of wood, the fire spread, meaning a large section of it is badly damaged. Some of the flags and equipment, which have been in the hut since it was built 50 years ago, also perished.

Fortunately firefighters returning from a minor fire at the clothing bank in the town spotted the blaze from a distance and called for back-up when they realised the scale of it.

Ben Gulliford, 14, who joined the Scouts about three years ago and is now a patrol leader in the group, was distraught after walking past on Sunday morning and seeing the damage.

He said: “In the past there has been a lot of vandalism there. Windows have been smashed, there has been graffiti and pellets have been shot at the fire exit.

“I literally cried when I saw what had happened. The front looks really bad and the roof is badly damaged.

“I love the Scouts and enjoying going to the Scout hut to learn new things and help others.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue said the fire was being treated as suspicious and officers are currently investigating it.

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