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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Firework sets light to butterfly haven
Stratford Butterfly Farm
The fire did not affect the public exhibition area
One of Warwickshire's main tourist attractions could lose thousands of pounds worth of business after a stray firework sparked a fire.

Part of a glass butterfly nursery at the Stratford Butterfly Farm, which is used to breed rare and exotic butterflies, was destroyed in the fire which broke out on Monday night.

Fire crews were called to the farm shortly after 2300 BST.

A rocket from a Jubilee firework display is believed to have landed in an empty plastic flowerpot next to the greenhouse, setting the building alight.

Once the greenhouse has been rebuilt, it could take eight to ten weeks to regenerate the plants that were destroyed

Chris Calvert

About 90 exotic butterflies were in the greenhouse at the time but the majority are believed to have been saved.

The butterfly farm, which is the biggest of its kind in Europe, exports rare species to farms around the world for exhibition.

The three endangered varieties produced there are the Small Postmen, Red Sailor and Zebra Longwing butterflies.

However special plants used in the breeding process, which were imported from jungles around the world, were destroyed in the fire and could take weeks to replace.

Chris Calvert, a director at the butterfly farm, says they face losing thousands of pounds in export sales as a result of the fire.

He told BBC News Online: "When I left site in the early hours of this morning (Tuesday) I thought all the butterflies in the greenhouse had been killed but the majority have survived it so I suppose it isn't as bad as it could have been.

"However we have lost the ability to breed butterflies and we are losing a lot of money on the export side which normally brings in around 500 a week."

'Plant regeneration'

Mr Calvert said it could be up to 12 weeks before the greenhouse could be used for breeding again.

"Once the greenhouse has been rebuilt, it could take eight to ten weeks to regenerate the plants that were destroyed.

"It will then be another two to three weeks before we see butterflies."

However he stressed that the rest of the farm was open to the public.

"The public side has not been affected at all and today (Tuesday) we had hundreds of people through the door.

"They didn't even know there had been a fire."


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