A SCOUT hut in Tilbury would have been destroyed by fire had it not been for an eagle-eyed group leader spotting the blaze from a nearby tower block.
Ian Newell, the group scout leader for Tilbury, praised the quick thinking of a colleague, who called the fire brigade after yobs started a fire behind the hut in Northview Avenue at around 9.30 on Saturday night.
Thankfully, the fire brigade were quick to the scene and put the fire out before it could take grip.
Cladding to the centre was damaged and soil pipes for the toilets melted, but volunteers were able to repair the bulk of the damage on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Newell said: “The damage was better than i’d thought it was going to be originally. If one of our leaders hadn’t seen it it could have been much worse.
“At the time they happened to be visiting a friend in one of the tower blocks, which was lucky. The fire brigade got their pretty quick. If it had been worse that would have been our worst nightmare.
“But we’ll swallow it ourselves on this occasion rather than getting insurance companies involved.”
The hall - which is the only scout hut left in Tilbury - is used by between 80 and 90 youngsters each weeks, with beaver, cubs and scout groups using the facility.
Mr Newell added that in recent months, the hut has been targeted by vandals, but not with fire. He said the suggestion was that it was youngsters who had started the fire.
Fire crews were called to a second blaze in changing rooms at the King George Playing Field off St Chad’s Road, a mere 200 metres from the first fire, at 11.30am on Sunday.
A spokesman for Essex Fire and Rescue said: “A fire in the changing rooms of a pavillion building at St George's Playing Fields is believed to have been set deliberately. This is the second deliberate fire in two days, with vandals setting light to a scout hut yesterday. “