Arson hit sanctuary sets reopening date

Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary will be reopening this weekend after it was badly damaged in a fire. L-R is Andy Richards with Dibley, Ian Gibbons, Sarah Chapman and Kevan Yarwood with Duke.

Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary will be reopening this weekend after it was badly damaged in a fire. L-R is Andy Richards with Dibley, Ian Gibbons, Sarah Chapman and Kevan Yarwood with Duke.

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AN animal sanctuary has risen from the ashes following a devastating arson attack.

More than 20 animals were killed in the blaze at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in March which left staff and volunteers facing a £15,000 bill.

But with the help of fundraisers the St Annes sanctuary will finally reopen on Saturday.

Owner Mandy Leigh described the last few months as ‘murder’.

She said: “In my eyes it was murder, my animals were killed, it has been a heartbreaking ordeal for myself and my staff.

“It has been very difficult not providing our usual service as well, we have not been able to rehome any animals which is sad.

“We will never get over the death of our animals but we have to carry on and that is what we are doing.”

Mrs Leigh said they lost four adult cats, four kittens, 10 chickens and a rabbit which were in an isolation unit in a outbuilding near the main centre were killed in the blaze.

A plaque in their memory will be put up in the new building which will be completed in the summer.

She said: “We have had so much help from residents and builders who are doing work for free.

“We rely on public donations at the best of times never mind at a time like this. The building is safe to open to the public, we had the health and safety inspectors in last week but it won’t be fully ready until August.

“I do need to stress though we still have no storage and therefore cannot except donations such as bedding and toys. We are also not yet ready to accept volunteers although we hope to be in the next few months.”

Fire ripped through Easterleigh in the early hours of March 23. On the same day a domestic garage on Church Road, a Volkswagen van on Clarendon Road and Fylde Scout headquarters on Heyhouses Lane were also ravaged by fire.

Two men have been charged with four counts of arson and one count of attempted arson. They will appear at Preston Crown Court this month.