ARSONISTS are believed to have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a Cradley Heath nursery after starting a fire in the centre’s garden.

Emergency services, who believe the fire was started deliberately, were called to the blaze at Little Explorers Day Nursery, in St Anne’s Road, at about 2am this morning (Thursday, May 17).

The alleged suspects have been seen on CCTV footage gain access the nursery before setting the garden shed ablaze before returning to their vehicle and driving away.

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Nursery owner Kelly Shaw has slammed the “mindless” vandals for their actions, telling the News: “It’s shocking. I didn’t know what to think when I got the phone call from the fire service this morning telling me what had happened.

“My mind was racing as I was expecting the worse.

“From the CCTV we have, we can tell it was two people involved but you can’t get a good picture of their faces.

“We are all gutted at what has happened. It’s just so sad. Why would anyone target a nursery of all places?

“There were a lot of tears this morning when the children came in. We tried to let as many people know about it as possible so it wouldn’t be as much of a shock to them.”

Two West Midlands Fire Service crews from Brierley Hill and Stourbridge stations were sent to the scene where they found the flames had spread to the main nursery building.

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Fortunately the firefighters managed to subdue it from spreading inside the building using two hose reel jets which eventually put the fire out.

Despite the severe damage to the garden and outside of the nursery, the centre still opened as usual for the 50 youngsters who attend each day.

Kelly, who has run the centre for the past five years, said: “We’ve never had anything happen like this before. It’s the most major thing we’ve experienced.

“The fire has completely wrecked the shed and our £200 buggies and bikes, as well as the Astro Turf garden which was only installed last year. Replacing the fence panels alone is going to cost us about £1,700.”

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Following the attack, a justgiving page – – was set up to help raise money to replace some of the damaged items.

Kelly added: “The response we’ve had from our families and the community has been heart-warming as they’ve all been out with their shovels helping us to start clearing all the debris.

“And we are lucky in one aspect that it didn’t spread inside the nursery so we can still open, but we won’t be able to use the garden until it’s all cleared up.”

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “The fire, which is believed to have started sometime between 12.30am and 2am, is being treated as possible arson.”

Anyone with information can call 101, quoting crime reference number 20SW/109006Y/18.