Barnstaple grandfather said he was unable to watch as workshop and summer house went up in flames.

Fire ripped through the workshop and summer house in Zephyr Close, Barnstaple. Picture: Sharon NeveFire ripped through the workshop and summer house in Zephyr Close, Barnstaple. Picture: Sharon Neve

A Barnstaple grandfather has described how arsonists destroyed 50 years of his life in a matter of minutes.

Dennis Pilon said he was unable to watch as fire ripped through his workshop and summer house in the garden of his home in Zephyr Close.

The retired carpenter and motorbike enthusiast lost two bikes, fishing equipment, handmade furniture and a 50-year collection of carpentry tools among a host of irreplaceable items.

The motorbikes literally melted in the extreme heat, measured at around 600 degrees by firefighters.

Fire ripped through the workshop and summer house in Zephyr Close, Barnstaple. Picture: Sharon NeveFire ripped through the workshop and summer house in Zephyr Close, Barnstaple. Picture: Sharon Neve

The fire was so hot that it melted the uPVC window frames and fascias of the main house.

Apple trees and a shed in the adjacent allotment were also destroyed.

"It's beyond belief; that was my retirement hobby," Dennis, 64, told the Gazette.

The fire is believed to have been started in the corner of a playing field that backs onto the corner of Dennis' garden.

The first the couple knew about the blaze was when the electric went out at around 7pm on Tuesday week.

Dennis grabbed a hose in an attempt to extinguish the flames while wife Patricia called the fire brigade, who arrived within minutes.

"I thought I could rescue the bikes but as quickly as I looked, the fire came across the workshop," said Dennis.

"The whole ceiling was red hot with fire and knew then there was no way I could put it out.

"The flames were 30ft-high - I've never seen anything like it in my life; I couldn't look at it when it was going."

North Devon Motorcycle Club member Dennis said he had been inundated with offers of help since the blaze.

"I've had hundreds of emails and offers of help," he said.

DC Simon Scotthorne of Barnstaple CID confirmed the fire was being treated as arson.

"We believe it could have been kids messing around with lighters but do not have any suspects and are relying on support from members of the public," he said.

If you can help, contact DC Scotthorne on 101, quoting CR/128891/14.