A fire chief has issued an urgent appeal to catch the suspected arsonists responsible for setting two buildings in Chesterfield ablaze.
The town’s old magistrates’ court was damaged and a building at Queen’s Park Annexe was completely destroyed when firebugs struck on Sunday night.
Police said the blazes – which both happened within 20 minutes of each other – are being treated as suspected arson attacks and are likely to have been started by the same people.
Bob Curry, group manager at Derbyshire fire service, told the DT: “We need to stop the people responsible for these suspected arson attacks right now.
“It’s quite unusual for Chesterfield to have fires like this but if this sort of behaviour continues we’ve got a huge problem.”
The Queen’s Park Annexe building – which was used to store sports equipment including wooden boats – was reduced to rubble by the fire.
Firefighters from Chesterfield, Staveley and Clay Cross were called to the Boythorpe Road site at about 10.55pm and spent three hours fighting the flames.
Police said it was “ablaze from end to end”.
The annexe site sits across the road from the main park and sports centre.
It has been earmarked by Chesterfield Borough Council as the location for the new Queen’s Park Leisure Centre, with building work expected to begin by the end of the year.
Twenty minutes prior to that incident, at 10.35pm, firefighters from Chesterfield and Staveley were called to a blaze at Chesterfield’s old magistrates’ court on West Bars (pictured left).
It is understood a wheelie bin had been set alight and pushed up against the building.
Mr Curry said: “Thankfully the damage was not severe. The fire was spotted early by a member of the public and reported to us early so we were able to stop the flames from spreading and save this important building.”
Anyone with information about the fires should call Derbyshire police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.