The fire took place at midday on Friday (July 10) in the 23rd Portsmouth Scout Group’s storage building in Northern Parade, Hilsea. The Fire Service said due to contamination from smoke, all the tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and recently purchased £1,500 dining tent cannot be used.
Scout Group leader, Steve Milsom, said: ‘I was at work yesterday when I got a call saying the building was on fire. Apparently one of the residents nearby had contacted the Fire Service after seeing flames.
‘We can’t use any of the equipment as you could potentially be breathing in dangerous fumes.’
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While this year’s camping trips have so far been curtailed due the coronavirus pandemic, the Scout group would normally participate in 15 trips each year to places such as the New Forest and Lyons Copse in Shedfield.
Steve added: ‘We are in quite a deprived area and for some of these young people it’s the only chance they have to get out of the city and to experience the countryside and wildlife.
‘At the moment we can’t do any of our outside work and if we can’t replace the camping equipment they’re going to miss out considerably.’
The group also provides activities for younger children as part of its Beavers and Cubs.
Group secretary, Helenna Knight, said: ‘In total we work with 70 children. While our insurance will provide some cover it’s not going to cover the full costs. We also use a lot of this equipment for all our outdoor activities such as cooking and fire building.’
To replace the damaged equipment, the group has set up a fundraising page with an initial target of £2,000 and is also appealing to local businesses who may be able to help.
Helena said: ‘We would be extremely grateful for any outdoor equipment.’
Steve added: ‘One of my former Scouts runs a bouncy castle business and he’s going to host a free fun day to help raise funds.’
Anyone who can help should email Helenna at [email protected]
The cause of the fire is being investigated.