A RESIDENT has called for action to stop vandals burning down a cedar tree which is believed to have stood at Farnborough for more than 400 years.

Donald Gardner fears that the 60ft tall tree will be reduced to ashes unless holes in the trunk, where the fires are being started, are filled up.

He spoke out after the latest attempt to burn down the tree which stands in a children's play area opposite his home in Fairfax Road.

His neighbour, Mrs Louise Upson, raised the alarm after she saw flames and smoke pouring from the tree at about 8.30pm on Friday last week.

A Rushmoor fire crew were quickly on the scene and dealt with the incident.

Mr Gardner said: "It's the second time this year that youngsters have set light to it. The last time was in August when I managed to stop them."

The vandals are starting the fires with the aid of paper or a similar material which they are pushing into the holes in the trunk.

"It's a good job Mrs Upson saw the fire, otherwise I'm sure it would have been goodbye to the tree," said Mr Gardner.

"The cedar is a monster and a landmark, and it would be a tragedy if it disappeared after all these years."

A Rushmoor Council spokesman promised to investigate the problem. "It may be possible to fill the holes with a special foam which hardens," he said.