An organic hut at Holy Island, Northumberland, has been damaged by fire in what is thought to have been a deliberate attack.
Arsonists are believed to be behind a blaze that almost destroyed a unique attraction at Holy Island.
Seal Hut is a wood and stone structure positioned on a remote sand dune, which was created by visitors with items they had collected on the beach.
It also housed a book in which people could write their thoughts.
But the unusual hut’s roof was completely destroyed by a fire that broke out, on Wednesday.
And the blaze is believed to have been started deliberately. Northumbria Police have arrested and questioned a 49-year old man in connection with the fire.
News of the suspected arson has saddened regular visitors to the hut, but is hoped it can be re-built.
Patrick Norris, from Belford, who runs walking tours in the area : “It is sad. My feeling is if the surrounding walls which are just built up from stone off the beach are still there, people will start to put the roof back on again.
“In a couple of years time, it will once again become a place where you can sit inside and have your sandwiches. The whole organic process will start again.”
At just after 3pm on Wednesday, Humber Coastguard was notified of black smoke on the dunes by tourists and dispatched its island team.
Local coastguards searched the area and discovered the hut on fire.
They returned to the village where they met a Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service crew which had been dispatched from Berwick.
The coastguards transported the crew in their 4×4 vehicle to the hut, where the fire was put out after around 20 minutes having damaged the structure and destroyed its roof.
Discovered inside the hut were tyres, suggesting the fire had been started deliberately.
Seal Hut is is on the sand dune close to Caves Haven and Sandham Bay, roughly three miles from Holy Island village.
It is believed it first appeared around ten years ago although the reasons for its creation and who instigated it are a mystery.
The structure is said to be popular with tourists and walking groups, who take shelter from the elements inside, or use it as a palce to eat lunch and watch seals and other wildlife through its small window.
A book was left inside in which visitors would record their thoughts while it also contained visitor information and items people had left on the beach.
The hut is said to have grown over the years as people have added to it using driftwood washed up on the beach.
At one point, Natural England – which is responsible for the dunes on which the structure sits – dismantled the Seal Hut amid apparent health and safety concerns.
But it was soon built back up again.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 23 Aug 2014