A 200-year-old tree that was badly burned in a fire at Drum Manor Forest Park Cookstown will have to be chopped down, according to the park’s ranger.
The evergreen, which towers 150ft over one of the park’s lakes, sustained extensive damage when the hut in front of it was set alight at around 9pm on Saturday evening.
The act, which is being treated as criminal damage by police, has attracted the wrath of locals - many of whom have used the hut to watch the ducks or climbed in the tree’s branches over the years.
Speaking about the fire, Park Ranger Sean Laird said: “The fire brigade was out here about 9 o’clock. I phoned it in.”
Angry at the damage he said the tree will now have to cut down as it is unsafe, but questioned whether anyone would reveal who had done it.
“I wonder would they be as quick to come in and say I seen the boy that burnt that hut down there?” He asked.
While no arrests have yet been made, police are continuing their appeal for information.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Just after 9.30pm police received a report that an enclosed seating area had been set on fire.
“A wooden viewing hut was destroyed and a tree sustained scorch damage.”
Inspector Daniel Walsh added: “I would ask anyone with any information about this incident or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area to contact police at Cookstown Police Station on the non emergency number 101.
“Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”