AN investigation is ongoing after a 40ft straw figure of Peter Rabbit in Nantwich was destroyed in a fire yesterday.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at Snugburys Ice Cream Farm, in Hurleston, at 5.41pm on Thursday, using one hose reel jet to extinguish it before leaving around 90 minutes later.

The giant sculpture was built last year to mark 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter.

Many took to social media to express their disappointment. Cheshire Fire & Rescue and Cheshire Police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Inspector Stuart York said: “Fortunately no-one was injured as a result of the fire but the consequences could have been worse had the fire not been put out so quickly, given its proximity to a major road.

"We are currently following up a number of lines of enquiry and I am keen to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously.

"If anyone believes that they have any information that could assist with our enquiries please come forward.”

Cheshire Fire & Rescue’s Station Manager Matt Barlow said: “Our Nantwich firefighters battled to save this well-known local landmark which was already well alight when they arrived.

"We are working closely with our colleagues at Cheshire police to establish the cause of the fire and would urge anyone with any information to get in touch.”

Anyone with any information is urged to call Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 742 of February 2.

Information can also be left anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.

Snugburys has called the incident ‘very sad’, but has responded by offering free extra ice cream scoops to celebrate Peter Rabbit.

A Facebook post read: “We are very sad to confirm Peter was set-alight last night by an arsonist at 5.30pm.

“In celebration of our lovely Peter Rabbit we will be giving away an extra scoop on all cones bought today!

“Thank you all – we are truly overwhelmed by all the support from everyone far and wide in last few hours. It's wonderful to see that Peter Rabbit was loved by so many.

“We certainly won't let this stop us!”

Peter Rabbit was the latest in a series of sculptures built at the site, following Big Ben and a Dalek from Doctor Who.