Firefighters praise local community for help identifying suspected arsonists

Saltwell Park bowling clubhouse after fire

Saltwell Park bowling clubhouse after fire

Thankful firefighters have praised the local community for their help in identifying two suspected arsonists after a century old building was set on fire. 

At 8.05pm on Sunday March 13th, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) received a call reporting the locally listed bowling clubhouse in Saltwell Park was on fire. 

Two crews from Gateshead Community Fire Station were on scene in a matter of minutes to bring it under control but sadly the 100-year-old clubhouse has been severely damaged by the fire.  

An investigation into the cause of the fire was launched by TWFRS and Northumbria Police who deemed that the blaze had been started deliberately. 

Following the fire, TWFRS firefighters and prevention teams took to the streets alongside neighbourhood policing teams and officers from Gateshead Council. 

They were appealing for help from the community to identify those responsible, informing them of the anonymous reporting tool FireStoppers and also ensuring homes were fitted with working smoke and heat detectors.  

Over 150 homes were visited in just one day and TWFRS still have volunteers and firefighters working in the area to ensure homes are safe. 

On Wednesday 23rd March, a senior firefighter in the area has thanked the local community for their support – after tip-offs led to the identification of two teenage suspects. 

They have been interviewed under caution by Northumbria Police and the investigation into the circumstances around the fire will continue. 

Group Manager Paul Thompson, District Manager for the area, said “I want to thank the community for working with us to provide information about the cause of the fire. 

“The clubhouse was an iconic feature of the park and, having spoken to local residents myself, I know how devastating it has been for people who frequent the park.  

“By contacting FireStoppers, you’ve helped us, Northumbria Police and the Council identify some potential suspects and have potentially made our community a safer place for all.  

“You will still see us out and about conducting our safe and well checks in Gateshead to make sure your home is safe so if you see us around, please say hello.” 

Sergeant Ben Powell of Northumbria Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “Thank you to the diligent member of the public who contacted FireStoppers with information that has helped progress our investigation. 

“The public are very much our eyes and ears and by working with us, communities can be kept safer.”  

A spokesman for Gateshead Council said that as well as supporting the Fire Service and Police with their work in the community around the park, the council has also commissioned youth outreach services to be in Saltwell Park in the early evenings to engage with young people and provide activities.

You can report information anonymously by contacting the independent charity FireStoppers on 0800 169 5558 or via their website.