'I just thought, please no!' Terror for Middleport couple as teenage arsonists set fire to fir trees
A COUPLE have been left devastated after teenage arsonists set 40ft fir trees on fire, destroying their garden shed and killing 11 fish.
Karen Rockey was going to bed when she spotted flames at the back of her home in Buttermere Close, Middleport.
The panic-stricken 45-year-old, who was in on her own at the time, then tried to dial 999 to alert the fire brigade but the blaze had affected the electrics and cut off the phone lines.
The care worker said: "I heard a lot of crackling coming from outside and straight away I was worried because another tree had recently been burnt down across the road.
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"I opened the bedroom blind and saw smoke everywhere – I just thought 'please no'.
"When I went outside the trees were ablaze and the neighbours were banging on my door. It is horrible what has happened and it makes you not want to live here anymore."
A neighbour alerted the emergency services after spotting the fire at around 11pm on Monday night.
Firefighters from Sandyford took around 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control but the trees were still smouldering yesterday morning.
Karen and husband Neil, who have lived at the house for four years, said a significant amount of damage had been caused. They were particularly upset after ornaments in memory of Karen's sister Dawn Grocott, who died of cervical cancer at the age of 45, were trampled in the chaos.
Karen added: "She always loved sitting by the pond and looking at the fish so we planted them there for her. It hurts because when these things get damaged it feels like a personal attack on you."
Karen's husband Neil, aged 56, who is registered disabled, said: "Everything has gone. The shed burnt down with all our garden furniture in and the lawnmower and fishing equipment. It poisoned our 11 koi carp fish in the pond which we have had for years. We are both absolutely gutted."
Police are now investigating a spate of fires in the area which are believed to have been started by a gang teenagers.
It is believed two children have been caught on CCTV lighting a fire nearby on the same night. The garden backs on to Baskeyfield Primary School's playing fields which the vandals are using to access gardens.
Karen said: "It should be fenced off. They were 38-year-old conifer trees and they were gone in a matter of minutes because of a mindless and senseless act of vandalism."
Karen and Neil will have to wait until next Thursday for an insurance assessor to estimate the total damage caused.
Neil added: "What are these kids even doing out at that time of night? I think the parents ought to be found and made accountable."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "Colleagues at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service informed us of three sets of conifers set on fire in Nash Peake Street, Aldersea Close and Buttermere Close. The incidents are being treated seriously and we are pursuing lines of inquiry, including looking into obtaining CCTV footage from the locality."
Anyone with information is asked to call Staffordshire Police con on 101 quoting incident number 2 of March 5.