Bonfire plans go up in flames

Ponderosa in Heckmondwike have been collecting wood all year to put on a community bonfire, but it's been set alight. the bonfire was for charity.L-R Robert Wilson Danny Balme and Tom Haslet.
Ponderosa in Heckmondwike have been collecting wood all year to put on a community bonfire, but it's been set alight. the bonfire was for charity.L-R Robert Wilson Danny Balme and Tom Haslet.
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A COLOSSAL mountain of wood which had been collected for a charity bonfire has been torched in an arson attack for the second year running.

Ponderosa owner Howard Cook had been gathering the unwanted wood throughout the year in preparation for the farm’s Bonfire Night event.

Firefighters said the pile of wood was about the size of a tennis pitch and about 15ft tall.

It was set alight at about midnight on Saturday.

Mr Cook said he had just gone to bed after working on preparations for Heckmondwike and District Rotary Club’s classic car rally, when he was told the wood had been set alight.

The Bonfire Night celebrations help to fund Ponderosa’s work with young people with learning difficulties.

Mr Cook said: “It is very disappointing and it’s not the first time it’s happened.

“The fire is a big attraction and we have been collecting the wood during the year.

“We’ve had people putting their unwanted pallets on the pile and Hutchinson Demolition in Dewsbury had given us some nice clean timber to put on the fire.

“The sad part about this is, it is the people with learning difficulties who we work with who are affected.

“They really look forward to this event and they are really upset.

“The young offenders we work with are also upset too. It’s awful for all of us.

“Someone has come on private land to do it – and we have put some signs up about walking on the land which have been defaced with foul language.”

Howard said the same thing happened last September when wood collected for the annual Bonfire Night event at Ponderosa was torched.

He said: “It’s sickening. It is the second year running and it hurts.

“We don’t make any money from this at all – it’s a community event.

“We are taking stock to see what we can do.”