THE owner of a business has branded arsonists who targeted his premises as “scum”.
Furious Edwin Ramsbottom, owner of Clough Nurseries on Clough Road, Masbrough, hit out after the attack on Tuesday night.
A shed, caravan and thousands of pounds worth of equipment were destroyed despite the efforts of three fire crews.
But Mr Ramsbottom pledged that the family-run business - which has been operating for half a century - would remain open and said he was delighted that supporters had set up a fundraising campaign to help.
Mr Ramsbottom said he was alerted to the fire at around 10pm by a family member.
He said: “My mum lives near the premises - it was a neighbour who alerted her and she rang me.
“It has not devastated the business but has damaged all the sheds, rotovators and mowers.”
The rotovators themselvews cost up to £5,000 each, and the loss of dozens of pots of plants would also prove costly.
Referring to the culprits, he said: “I just think they are scum, to be honest.
“You try to make a living and people pinch off you and try to burn your place down.”
He added: “Customers can visit and we are just going to tape off part of the site.”
He praised the fire service for their prompt action.
Crews from Rotherham, Elm Lane and Parkway stations were called to the scene at 10.25pm and South Yorkshire Fire Service confirmed the blaze was started deliberately.
Rebecca Swallow, who said the incident had been an “horrific crime to a family business” started the fundraising appeal.
Mrs Swallow, of Victoria Road, Parkgate, said: “The family have been a part of the Rotherham community for a long time and to have somthing so horrible happen to them is disgusting.
“They have been family friends for many years and I know a lot of people wanted to help them.
“If people have nothing to give to the fund they are offering to go down to help with the clear-up.
“The people who carried out the arson attack need finding.”
Wellwishers can make a donation at http://tinyurl.com/kwe35c9.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “The incident is currently being investigated and anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting incident number 1267 of May 9.”