A FIRE which destroyed a cafe at a popular tourist spot is being treated as arson.
Firefighters were called out to Barlow Trout and Coarse Fishery early Sunday morning after a blaze broke out at the on-site snack bar, the Hungry Trout.
Gas cylinders exploded and flames reached tree-top level as the timber building burned to the ground.
A dog kennel was also destroyed.
Owner Rex Ward, 80, said he felt “sick” when he saw the damage.
He added: “It’s been burnt right down - there’s nothing left of it.
“The picnic tables have gone as well.
“It couldn’t have been an accident. I felt sick when I saw it.
“It’s a big part of our income and the fisherman enjoy a breakfast and a bite to eat.”
The snack bar – which is set in the 50-acre site of secluded valley, four trout lakes, four coarse lakes, a fresh water brook, holiday cottages and a camping club – has been broken in to four times over the past nine months.
Mr Ward has run the snack bar for the past 20 years and has lived in the site for over 20 years.
He said: “You don’t expect this sort of thing to happen here. It’s totally unnecessary for someone to do this.
“In all the years we’ve lived here we’ve had very little trouble.”
He added: “It was a really nice log cabin, in keeping with the surroundings, but I’m going to have to replace it with a brick or stone building because of this.
“I don’t have a choice.”
Mr Ward said he was going to replace the snack bar as soon as possible.
Shocked anglers, cyclists and walkers have spoken out about the blaze.
Pensioner Glyn Williams, of Dronfield, said: “The fishing ponds have developed over a long period of time and this cafe has been a great amenity for anglers, walkers and people in the area.
“I spotted it had been incinerated about lunchtime on Sunday. A lot of people are going to be very upset about it.”
Fire fighters and three engines fought the blaze for around three hours.
A police spokesman said an investigation had been launched and they were treating the incident as suspicious.
Witnesses, or anyone with information should call police on 101.
l Did you use the cafe? Let us know by emailing email@example.com