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Arson attacks in Hersden near Canterbury are linked, say police

A serial arsonist is thought to be operating as police connect two separate fires that were started in the same village.

An attack at Hersden pavilion, near Canterbury, saw the building gutted after it was engulfed by flames last month.

Black smoke billowed into the air during as fire crews tackled the pavilion blaze

Residents were left devastated after the blaze on April 4, which was the second to hit the venue in the space of a fortnight.

Louise Murphy Waite, of nearby Shaftesbury Road, said: "It’s part of our heritage which is why this saddens me so much. It’s like watching our memories burn down. It actually brought me to tears."

Two weeks later, a business half-a-mile away was also targeted.

Police now say this second fire is being treated as linked to the pavilion arson.

Police want to speak to this person

Two cars parked on a forecourt outside a car wash in Island Road, Hersden, were written off in the early morning arson attack, which happened on April 18.

The first vehicle was set on fire at about 1.30am and a second car was set alight three hours later.

The blazes were put out by fire crews but both vehicles were damaged beyond repair.

Officers later released CCTV footage of a person they believe may be able to help their investigation, as they stepped up their inquiries.

Distraught Hersden residents have stumped up a four-figure reward for information, following the apparently senseless attack on the village’s beloved pavilion.

The village pavilion in Hersden was totally destroyed by the blaze Picture: John Waite
The village pavilion in Hersden was totally destroyed by the blaze Picture: John Waite

John Waite - whose family have used the sports site for four generations - was compelled to put forward £500 after seeing the destruction caused.

“I was gutted when I saw it,” said the 59-year-old. “The pavilion being burned down has devastated not just me but our whole community.”

The final sum now stands at £1,700 and is offered to anybody who can provide police with the names of those responsible.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police on 01843 222289, quoting the reference number 46/66427/20, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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