Firefighters step up community working after blaze in Gateshead park

Firefighters have been praised for their quick response to a raging fire at a century-old locally listed building – but were sadly unable to prevent severe damage.

Crews at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) were on the scene in a matter of minutes after a fire in Saltwell Park on Sunday night.

They received the call at around 8.05pm after it was reported that the locally listed bowling clubhouse was on fire.

Two crews from Gateshead Community Fire Station immediately used jets and thermal imaging cameras to contain the fire and bring it under control.

Sadly the 100-year-old clubhouse has been severely damaged by the fire and the Service is unsure if it is structurally safe to remain standing.

Early investigations have led firefighters to believe the fire was started deliberately and could be linked to recent anti-social behaviour in the area.

And today (Thursday) TWFRS’s district manager for the area is calling on partners and the community to work together to identify those responsible.

Group Manager Paul Thompson said: “We do believe this fire has been started deliberately and could be linked to groups of young people gathering in the park.

“It is such a shame that this building has been destroyed but I am proud of how quickly our crews brought the blaze under control.

“The building is in a heavily wooded area and the fire could have been much worse so it was imperative we got to the scene quickly.

“We are working together with the Police, Gateshead Council and our community to identify those responsible and address anti-social behaviour in the area.

“Those involved in this criminality are a very small minority of children but we need the support of all parents.

“If children come home smelling of smoke then it is likely they have been involved in deliberate fire-setting and they are putting their own lives at risk.”

Sergeant Ben Powell of Northumbria Police’s Central Gateshead Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “This fire has devastated a century-old listed building, leaving it beyond repair.

“We are currently conducting a number of enquiries and reviewing CCTV and we urge anyone who may know anything about the fire to come forward – either speaking directly to police or through Crimestoppers.”

Philip Hindmarsh, Service Director for Environment & Fleet Management, said: “Sadly this historic pavilion has been gutted by the fire and a significant amount of the building has collapsed.

“We have cordoned off the site and ensured the services to the building have been isolated.”

Anyone with information about those responsible for the fire are asked to contact Northumbria Police online at their website, quoting log 030849N/22.

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