Arson probe as vandals send play area up in flames

An arson probe has been launched after a popular Wigan children's play area went up in flames for the second time in 48 hours as vandals also wrecked the neighbouring football club's new changing rooms.

The equipment at William Foster's playing field had already been roped off and the park shut by the council after a blaze there on Saturday night.

But at around 8pm on Monday night, intruders appear to have vaulted the fence to cause more havoc.

Distressing pictures of the swings and other apparatus ablaze were posted on social media even before firefighters had arrived at the scene.

John Pendlebury, manager of Wigan Cosmos FC who are based at the park, went down to view the damage and was horrified to discover that the team's new changing rooms had been trashed too.

Windows were smashed, a dividing wall pushed down and settees stolen.

He said: "This is very sad. It looks like someone has been on a rampage - nothing to do in the school holidays perhaps.

"We had been donated the new changing rooms after using shipping containers which were more secure but didn't look great and it was helping to get more teams to play there. But it's a right mess now.

"Meanwhile, for a little play area the one at Foster's is incredibly well used by the little ones.

"There was a fire at the play area on Saturday night when damage was caused. The slide is metal but the swings are plastic and there's that soft foam on the ground.

"We have heard that young people are stealing wheelie bins then setting them alight under the equipment.

"The equipment was damaged by the Saturday fire but wasn't condemned by the council. Maybe it was repairable.

" But now it looks like someone came back to finish the job. "