Pershore residents have been left devastated after a fire at Avon Meadows Community Wetland and Local Nature Reserve on Wednesday 9 January completely destroyed the pond dipping platform, used by local schools and other groups to learn about wetland wildlife.
Thanks to fire fighters, the blaze was contained, preventing it from spreading further, into the nearby reed beds, which would have been catastrophic for birds and insects that rely on the tall reeds for shelter and food over winter.
The dipping platform made of recycled plastic and was installed 10 years ago is now completely destroyed and will be in need of replacement at a cost to Wychavon.
Liz Etheridge, Wildlife Sites Project Officer at Wychavon said “We have had vandalism in the past, but this has only ever resulted in small patches of damage to the plastic structure so we can only assume that the fire was started deliberately. The volunteers from the Friends of Avon Meadows were quickly on the scene to survey the damage and help with the clear up of the site, collecting the metal fixings that had melted out of the dipping platform as it burned, along with cans, glass and plastic bottles, crisp packets and other litter exposed by the fire.
She continued “My thanks to them for their quick action which really helped us to protect the area as much as possible. During the clear up, we found hundreds of burnt snail shells, hopefully many of these were old and not occupied, but unfortunately we did find the body of frog that was unable to escape the blaze.”
The remaining charred stumps of the dipping platform supports will be removed and contractors will scrape away the coating of melted plastic that has formed over the bank of the pool in the next few weeks. Then Wychavon will look to install a replacement structure before spring so local schools continue to have somewhere to learn about the wildlife that lives on their doorstep.
Wychavon and The Friends of Avon Meadows are supporting West Mercia Police with their investigation and if anyone has any information about the cause of the blaze, please contact the police on 101, quoting incident reference 0567-S-090119.