‘Flamethrower’ used by children to torch plant near playground

The remains of the damaged bush
The remains of the damaged bush

THREE children used a makeshift flamethrower to torch a bush near a children’s playground in Eastbourne.

Two 13-year-old boys and 12-year-old boy from Eastbourne used an aerosol can and a cigarette lighter to launch a jet of flame into some bushes in Princes Park on Monday (April 18) at around 3.20pm. Parents and children looked on as a 15ft stretch of bush caught ablaze.

Police who attended the scene said 16ft flames rose from the burning shrubs.

The trio had been in Redoubt Fortress earlier in the day and had made a small fire, but police said they had no intention of burning anything down and no damage was caused. They then went on to Fisherman’s Green and set fire to paper in the toilets before crawling into the undergrowth in Princes Park, across the stream from the play area.

A member of the public called police when they saw the blaze erupt. Police officers were sent to investigate and when they arrived they caught sight of two of the culprits scampering away.

Officers set off in pursuit and soon collared the young boys.

A police spokesperson said they are talking to Eastbourne Borough Council to find a suitable punishment for the youngsters.

A council spokesman said, “The fire seriously damaged a shrub that formed part of a hedge-line in Princes Park. Fortunately, the fire was stopped before it spread to other plants and foliage in that area. Plans for remedial work will be considered in conjunction with the Princes Park Development Plan and the investment being made in the park as part of the Green Flag Award scheme.”

A spokesperson from East Sussex Fire and Rescue said it was an accidental ‘grass fire’. He said firefighters did not use jets or hoses reels to douse the flames as the fire fizzled out.

He said firefighters may have used fire beaters to tackle the flames.