A church in Skegness is facing an £80,000 bill following a ‘mindless act of vandalism’ that left a catalogue of damage both inside and to the brickwork.
The incident last month was one of a spate of arson attacks since the start of the year and started in a wooden shed at St Matthew’s Church - and police have this week renewed their appeal for information to help them catch those responsible.
Damage was so bad the church had to cancel a school assembly planned for the next day, and relatives at a funeral were faced with saying goodbye to their loved one in a smoke-filled building.
Rector of Skegness, the Rev Richard Holdren said: “The fire was started deliberately in a shed very close to the church building.
“It was one of a number started on the same night, so I don’t think we were being targeted as a church, but simply because we had a shed.
“They set fire to two other sheds and a caravan on the same night, and were caught setting fire to buildings at the hospital.
It is very sad to see a building that we all care for very much damaged in such a mindless fashionRector of Skegness, the Rev Richard Holdren
“The fire damaged the stonework in the North West corner of the church. It has actually altered the chemical composition of the stone and changed the colour from a light grey to a light pink. This stonework is now very crumbly.
“We also had two windows blown in by the fire which meant that there was a lot of smoke in the church and molten lead dripped onto the carpet in the meeting room.
“This is obviously causing a great deal of extra work for church officers and also a great deal of expense. The estimates for repairs, replacements, architect fees etc. and also cleaning the smoke damage, looks like costing on the top side of £80,000.
“It is very sad to see a building that we all care for very much damaged in such a mindless fashion.”
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue confirmed the cause of the fire was recorded as “deliberate”.
Crews from Skegness and Wainfleet were scrambled at 4,34am and attended the scene.
Among the other arson attacks in Skegness this year are two on the Heath Road industrial estate and at a delelict builder’s yard in Roman Bank,
Anyone with any information on the fire at St Matthew’s is urged to contact Lincolnshire Police on 101, quoting incident 32 of March 5.