Arsonists blamed for �25,000 damage at Norfolk paintball centre

A Norfolk paintball business owner said he was 'gutted' after about �25,000 damage was done in a suspected arson attack.

The wooden customer reception area at the Skirmish centre at Necton, near Swaffham, was destroyed in the blaze on Monday evening.

A panel which regulates the air pressure put in to the guns was also wrecked, as well as serious damage to 10 air bottles. Ten oak trees - which are up to 200 years old - will have to be cut down.

Mike Mason has run the centre for about 20 years - and also has another one in Norwich - and was distraught by the extent of the fire.

Four crews from Swaffham, Watton, Dereham and Fakenham were called out to tackle the blaze at about 9.30pm. There were initial concerns that the air bottles may explode.


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Investigations are continuing and it appears there were three separate fires.

Mr Mason, who lives near Wymondham, is convinced arsonists were to blame.

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'There is nothing electrical or gas there which could have caused it,' he said.

'It is not just the cost but all the labour to get it re-built. It was quite clear from talking to the firemen that it was arson.'

Mr Mason said people living nearby had seen what appeared to be torchlights at the centre and when they had gone down to look the fire had taken hold.

Up to 300 people use the centre at a busy weekend and Mr Mason is determined to be open on Saturday.

His wife Joanna said there had been a series of problems which appeared to have been caused by bored youths.

'It is very, very sad and I want to know what they get from doing it. What kick is there from destroying someone's livelihood,' said Mrs Mason. 'My husband is an honourable businessman and the centre provides brilliant entertainment.'

Anyone with information on the fire should contact Norfolk Police on 0845 4564567.

Anyone with queries about the Skirmish centre should ring 01508 481841 or visit the website: www.skirmishuk.com.

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