THE search is on to track down a vandal who set fire to part of an award-winning pub’s new £30,000 beer garden.

Bosses at the popular Sun Inn, at Ulverston are going through CCTV footage and asking customers who might have witnessed the incident to come forward.

Kirsty Mackenzie, managing director of Lakeland Inns, who runs the pub with husband Scott, said the damage was done after the pub’s garden had just undergone a major transformation to improve the environment for customers.

Kirsty, voted as one of the North-West’s leading entrepreneurs, said: “We listened to our customers who said they wanted a better area to sit outside and we’ve just invested £30,000, with brand new seating, new lights, and flowerbeds, all undercover.

“We’ve also got two commercial firepits in that area. And at about 7.30pm on Saturday night we think someone has pushed something flammable through a tiny hole in the bottom of the gas firepit and it has gone up in flames.

“It caused us major problems. Not just with the damage outside. We had to shut off all the gas which meant we had no hot water which affected our kitchen operation.

“It also cut off the hot water to our 20 hotel rooms which were occupied at the time meaning our guests had no hot water either.

“I’m glad to say that normal service has now been resumed. We’ve had the gas engineers in on Sunday morning and the garden area is now back open again.

“We’d like to thank all our customers for their patience while we were dealing with the issue.”

The fire itself was quickly put out by Scott with no need to call the fire service.

In terms of finding out what caused the fire, Kirsty is appealing to the pub’s customers who witnessed the incident to come forward.

Although the pub was busy at the time, the garden area was quieter than usual due to bad weather caused by Storm Dennis.

Kirsty said: “There was a small group of lads in the beer garden at the time and we would ask them to come forward and tell us what they saw.

“We will also be going back through all our CCTV footage to identify exactly what happened.”

Lakeland Inns operates four pubs across the south Lakeland area; The Sun Inn at Ulverston; The Commodore at Grange, The Black Cock Inn at Broughton-in-Furness, and recently took over the Royal Oak at Spark Bridge, which reopened on Friday.

The business creates its own beers and ales from its 100 per cent renewably powered brewhouse in Ulverston. The artisan ales and gluten-free beers are sold in all Lakeland Inns pubs under the Stringers Brewery brand.

The Sun Inn is the proud holder of a Cumbria in Bloom gold award.