A SPECIAL school in Thornbury has become the latest victim of an increasing number of arson attacks in the town.
The Bush Craft area of the Sheiling School, which was built by staff and pupils to use as a classroom for the outdoor parts of the curriculum, was set on fire overnight last Wednesday.
But due to the secluded location of the school, and the attack having taken place during the Easter holidays, no one had been on site at the time, with the incident being reported to police the following morning.
This was the sixth time in two months that arsonists had started fires in the grounds of the school, which works with disabled and vulnerable children.
A picture showing the damage caused was shared on social media by staff, with members of the community condemning the attack.
Thornbury resident Roger Hall said on Facebook group Spotted in Thornbury: “Having a son who attended the Sheiling School some years' ago, I find this particularly sad and upsetting.
“Let's hope that the scumbags responsible for this are caught, charged and imprisoned and subsequently banned from Thornbury for life.
“This sort of behaviour is just not acceptable and I feel so sorry for the staff and pupils whose hard work has been destroyed by this thoughtless act.”
Also commenting on the picture, Emily De-Sousa said: “The world is a sad place nowadays. People have so little respect for others.”
Elsewhere on social media, Shelagh Davey said: “This is so sad, my nephew used to work there, and I know what the Bush Craft shelter meant to a lot of the children and staff there. Absolutely disgusting behaviour to do this to everyone it meant so much to.”
But despite all the negativity towards the arsonists, many also sent their support to the school, offering their time to help repair it.
With the school closed for the Easter break, no one was available for comment when contacted by the Gazette.
A number of arson attacks have taken place in Thornbury in recent months, with large trees on the Mundy Playing Fields set on fire on two separate occasions between April 4-6.
Damage was also caused to Thornbury Skate Park in February after a fire was set in the middle of the site, with a bin fire and van fire also being reported on the same night.
A further suspected case of arson saw six garages set alight on Eastbury Close back in January.
Thornbury beat manager PC Natalie Jones said that officers have carried out house-to-house enquiries and is targeting patrols in the area.
She asked for any witnesses or anyone with information on the attack to come forward, by calling 101 and quoting reference 517081826.
Information can also be reported online by visiting avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact, or anonymously by calling independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.