Firefighters used a specially-trained sniffer dog to determine that a fire at Beeford Cricket Club was started deliberately.
Black Labrador Etta was brought in to detect whether accelerants had been used to start the blaze, and after being kitted out in a pair of specially-made boots to protect her paws from debris, she very soon made the discovery and gave her handler a special sign by pointing with her nose.
Fire Investigation Officer Paul Hayden said: “There was an unusual burn pattern which lead me to believe the fire had been started deliberately. Etta has certainly put her training to good use.”
Humberside Police have now opened an arson enquiry into the blaze which is said to have been started in changing rooms at the cricket club overnight on Sunday.
Treasurer of Beeford Cricket Club Louise Croft said the blaze was “annoying and disappointing” because the local community had raised around £10,000 through various events to pay for the construction of the building.
She said: “We received a local grant as well and all in all the building cost about £12,000. We estimate that the fire damage will cost around two to three thousand to repair. The cricket season starts on April 25 so we’ll be having a few weeks of painting and decorating. We are just disappointed that this has happened and we’re hoping it’s a one-off.”
Meanwhile, fire fighters say it can take days to detect traces of accelerant following a blaze, but dogs such as Etta can make a discovery in ten minutes because their sense of smell is so much more sensitive than a human’s.
A spokesperson from Humberside Police said: “The use of the fire investigation dog in this incident has been of great use to the initial fire investigation and we will now be trying to establish who committed this crime.”