Hunt for Gladstone Park reserve arsonist

By Laura Michell

A suspicious fire at a Gladstone Park reserve has left Hume council facing a repair bill totalling thousands of dollars.

A fire was lit on the cricket pitch at Ginifer Reserve, on Carrick Drive, damaging the synthetic pitch surface.

The fire was reported to Broadmeadows police by the council on November 19 but is believed to have occurred on November 17 or 18. It is one of a spate of fires at sporting grounds across Hume.

Hume council said the fire caused about $4000 damage, with the pitch needing to be fully replaced. Repair works were carried out last week.

The damage left Gladstone Park Cricket Club without a home ground for its November 23 and 24 games, forcing it to make late schedule changes.

Club president Wayne Mathews said the damage to the pitch was significant.

“We spent about two and a half days rescheduling games to other grounds and then all the fixtures had to be redone,” Mr Mathews said. “We would have played Friday night juniors at the ground, then Saturday morning. Also our Luscombe [Shield] seniors had to be re-located on the second day of their game. It would have been a full weekend of games at home.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Barry Gipp of Broadmeadows police said arson chemists examined the pitch but the cause of the fire was unknown. Police are investigating.

Detective Senior Sergeant Gipp said there had been a “real spate” of grassfires at sporting reserves in recent months. He said that in late October, police received a number of reports about fires at reserves in Dallas and Craigieburn. The Ginifer Reserve fire is the first one in which a playing surface has been damaged, he said.

Hume council corporate services director Daryl Whitfort said the behaviour of the offenders was “completely unacceptable”.

“It is extremely disappointing to see community sporting facilities damaged in this way,” he said. “The fire danger period is now active across Hume City.”

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