Girls raise alarm at latest golf course fire
TEENAGERS are believed to have started a fire which destroyed a 60ft fir tree at Herne Bay's disused golf club.
Flames could be seen by drivers on the Thanet Way as the blaze took hold on Saturday.
The alarm was raised by Herne Bay High School pupils Elisabeth Venner, 11, Chloe Hedger, 12, and Ella Hudson, 11, who were walking Ella's dog when they spotted the inferno and called the fire brigade.
Ella, from Mandarin Lane, said: "We saw three boys throwing what looked like sheets on the fire. The whole tree was totally on fire, it was really scary.
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"We ran to the clubhouse to find the security guard and then called 999 and the firemen came.
"They put it out really fast with their hoses and we got to sit in their fire engine afterwards, so I suppose it ended all right."
Herne Bay fire station's watch manager Leon Dyball said: "The girls did the right thing in calling us straight away.
"It looked like somebody had been making a campfire which spread to the conifer.
"We would emphasise that parents must make their children aware how dangerous it is to set fires in woods or places like this."
The golf course was sold for £1.2 million in November. Developer Mark Quinn, who is managing the site for new owner Melvyn Newman, said: "The fire was thoughtless idiocy and a real shame.
"We are spending a fortune on security for the site but it is over 100 acres and there are public footpaths going through it, so we can't fence it off. There is nothing we can do, other than keep calling the police."
There has been a spate of fires at the golf club since it closed.
Meanwhile, Mr Quinn said: "We are hoping to go to public consultation with our plans in four months time. But it won't be reopening as a golf course; it lost nearly £1 million in the last year of its operation. It just isn't viable."