Eyewitnesses spot ‘deliberate’ fire near Sidmouth Rugby Club pitch

Sidmouth Fire Station were called to the fire near the rugby ground on Sunday. Picture: Anne Bishop

Sidmouth Fire Station were called to the fire near the rugby ground on Sunday. Picture: Anne Bishop - Credit: Archant

Rugby tackle bags were ‘deliberately’ set alight in a clearing near a sports club at the weekend.

Sidmouth Fire Station was called to an open space around lunchtime on Sunday after several eyewitnesses spotted the fire near the training rugby pitch at Sidford.

Anne Bishop noticed smoke through the trees as she was walking through The Byes and called 999 are seeing what looked like foam rolls on fire.

Mrs Bishop said: "As I was the only one with a mobile phone, I offered to go across to see what was happening.

"We could now see the point of the fire behind the wire fence but not clearly due to trees and bushes and no-one responded to our call.

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"I then went through the gate to make my way back to the fire and found a clearing with a lot of rubbish plastic drinks bottles; old carrier bags; cardboard boxes and a couple of car tyres and two large rolls, the biggest about 5' long and 2' wide, that looked like tree trunks, placed at right angles.

"Both were burning well and with a lot of dry twigs around there was obviously a risk of fire spreading.

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"I called the fire brigade on 999. The local crew attended quickly and managed to get their appliance across the rugby pitch so the hose could be fed through a gap in the hedge at the wire fence, onto the fire, at which point I left the site of the fire. I didn't want a soaking.

"I couldn't see any evidence of a barbecue or such like that could have been left behind to start the fire and wondered if it had started spontaneously in the sunlight."

Mike Self, the officer in charge, said: "We were mobilised to a fire in the open, we had to cross the rugby pitch with the fire engine to extinguish the fire with hose reels, it was rugby tackle bags on fire and it was deliberate."

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