Arsonists have struck at Harrington Nature Reserve causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage and leaving volunteers devastated.

This is the second time in a week that the site has been targeted - and there has been a huge public outcry.

Not only was a bench completely destroyed by a blaze, but books and papers were also turned into a bonfire.

Workington Nature Partnership officer, Susan Cammish, said the bench would probably not be replaced, as they fear it could be targeted again.

She said: “There has been a huge public response already. I was on site the morning after with a group of schoolchildren who were doing a science topic and local residents and dog walkers all stopped me to talk about it.

“The bench was completely destroyed by fire and this is the second bench that has been damaged recently.

“I am not sure if we will replace this one because we just seem to be providing them with more fuel.

“The worst thing is the time that all the volunteers put in, which doesn’t have a monetary value. Over the last two months they have put in more than 360 hours just at Harrington.

“And this damage is preventing us from doing maintenance and improvements. We are now left having to make a decision on whether we just tidy up after people or do the work that is needed.”

The blaze is thought to have started late last Thursday night and is the second incident they had to deal with in a week at the reserve, with a bonfire of books found only a couple of days before.

Sue also appealed to members of the public to report any incidents to the police. She added: “These incidents need reported through official channels, to the police and relevant authorities and we can work with them to try and prevent more.”