NORTHUMBRIA Police officers investigating a fire that destroyed tents at a Northumberland park are treating the incident as arson.

The tents at Tyne Green in Hexham had been pitched since winter 2022 without permission from Northumberland County Council.

It is understood homelessness teams from the council and partners had been working with the occupants during that time, and the tents were finally abandoned in recent weeks.

Police and fire crews from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service were called to reports of a fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Just before 4am on Wednesday (January 17), police received a report that two tents were on fire in the Tyne Green area of Hexham.

“The fires were quickly extinguished by colleagues at the fire service.

“Officers can confirm they are treating the report as arson and enquiries are ongoing to locate those involved.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact police through the ‘Report’ pages of the website, or by calling 101, quoting crime ref 006257A/24.”

A spokesman for Northumberland County Council added: “We want our green spaces to be attractive and for use by everyone, but camping is not allowed at any of our sites without our express permission.

"No such permissions were in place at Tyne Green and a number of concerns had been raised about a small number of tents which had been set up.

“We’ve been working with partners to address this issue. The campers were asked to leave in December and over a period of weeks they have left. There remained one abandoned tent, which will now be removed.”