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Kings Hill Golf Club open after blaze but owner warns 'it could have been so much worse'

By Luke May

A golf course thought to have been the target of arson has reopened for business as usual today.

Eagle-eyed staff saw smoke rising next to the tee for the 9th hole yesterday after the smell of burning filled the course.

The blaze comes days after the club issued a smoking ban due to dry grass caused by the ongoing hot weather.

Damage caused by the fire
Damage caused by the fire

Co-owner Karen Kelso said: "It could have been so much worse.

"Our staff were watching from the club house through binoculars to make sure no one was smoking, that's when they saw it.

"The smoke was horrendous. The only reason it was controlled so quickly was thanks to our staff.

Mike Matthews, executive chef at Kings Hill Golf Club keeps a watch over the course where teenagers have set fire to area's of grass. Picture: Chris Davey. (3002125)
Mike Matthews, executive chef at Kings Hill Golf Club keeps a watch over the course where teenagers have set fire to area's of grass. Picture: Chris Davey. (3002125)

"It was quite windy yesterday and we have homes near our boundary, the danger factor was huge."

The club fears the fire may have been started intentionally, warning of four youths on bikes seen leaving the scene.

A spokesperson from Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: "Every year KFRS is called to fires that destroy acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. The dry weather that Kent is experiencing at the moment means it is especially important to take extra care.

Barry Bradshaw, golf course manager at Kings Hill Golf Club. Picture: Chris Davey. (2999972)
Barry Bradshaw, golf course manager at Kings Hill Golf Club. Picture: Chris Davey. (2999972)

"Grass and crop fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning. They can get out of hand fast and lead to extensive damage. Deliberately lit fires tie up firefighters and resources that could be needed elsewhere for house fires or car crashes where lives may be at risk.

"KFRS is appealing for anyone who spots a fire while outdoors to call the fire service on 999 as early as possible. An early call could mean the difference between a small, easily controllable fire and a widespread, devastating fire.

"It can be harder to give the location for an outdoor fire, so look around for any landmarks that you can see such as pubs or churches in the area when reporting the fire to the 999 Control Operator to help us locate the fire.

"Report any information on fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously if need be) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

A spokesperson from Kent Police said: "Enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"Anybody with information can phone Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting YY/24351/18."

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