"Utterly mindless vandalism!" Fire investigators confirm arsonists torched Stanwick Lakes playground
Rebuilding will take "some time," say bosses but plans in place to make sure kids don't miss out in the summer
Detectives have labelled a blaze which destroyed Stanwick Lakes adventure playground as "utterly mindless vandalism".
An arson investigation has been launched into the fire with appeals for anybody in the area to check CCTV, dashcam or doorbell footage for anybody acting suspicious in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Firefighters rushed to Stanwick Lakes at about 1am but could not stop the fire wiping out the largely timber climbing frames, bridges and walkways.
Bosses at the Lakes have pledged to rebuilt the park and say they have been overwhelmed by donations and pledges of support.
A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: "We are definitely treating this as an incident of arson and an investigation is under way.
"We would encourage people in the local area to review any CCTV, dashcam or doorbell footage they may have to see if it shows anyone acting suspiciously between about 12.50am and 1.30am on the morning of April 10.
"The incident number is 21000196375 and people can contact us on the usual 101 number or online HERE or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111."
All other facilities at Stanwick Lakes are still open.
■ DONATIONS to help rebuild the playground can be made HERE direct to Rockingham Forest Trust
The 750-acre nature and leisure attraction, on the A45 between Rushden and Thrapston, is managed by independent charity Rockingham Forest Trust.
Several unofficial online fundraisers produced nearly £20,000 in pledges within hours of the fire.
A trust spokesman said: "We thank everyone for all of the kind words, support and donations we have received over the last few days. They mean a great deal to us.
"Currently over £20,000 has been raised though public donations – much of which has come from other people setting up fundraising pages. We have been touch with all of them, expressed our gratitude and are organising transfer of the funds to Rockingham Forest Trust.
"Some people have asked, why are we fundraising? We do have insurance that means we can eventually replace the piece of playground equipment that has been burnt, but there are many other costs related to this incident.
"It is unlikely that we will be able to start the rebuild for several months, so we are investigating temporary play equipment that could go in its place over the summer.
"We already have some CCTV, but extra funding could help us boost its quality and add lighting and security monitoring.
"Also, although we still have lots of great play equipment at Stanwick Lakes, losing one of our key pieces may affect how many visitors come to us in the coming weeks and this will go towards the gap in our income for the charity.
"We do not have a set target for our fundraising, but if we raise more than we need for costs related to this incident, then the money will go directly to looking after Stanwick Lakes for both people and wildlife. This includes maintaining the paths for our visitors and buying bird food for the popular bird feeding station.
"We have had many offers of help to rebuild the play equipment and we are logging all of these and will be in touch once we have firmer plans.
"The trust is an which receives only a small proportion of its income from local grants. The rest comes from trading through the social enterprise at Stanwick Lakes and from fundraising campaigns so donations are a vital source of funds."
Stanwick Lakes has now posted its own appeal page is being set up for anyone who would like to donate to help the site get back on its feet – check out Stanwick Lakes social media for more information.
Rockingham Forest Trust is very grateful for the huge amount of public support it has already received in relation to this incident.