Squirrel causes $300,000 worth of damage at Indiana community centre

Officials said the rodent got into electrical equipment, causing a power surge

An errant squirrel caused about $300,000 (£179,000) in damage to an eastern Indiana community centre due to open in June.

Fort Worth Parks Department officials said in a meeting with board members on Thursday that the squirrel got into the electrical equipment of the building in McMillen Park on 1 April, causing a power surge that damaged the heating and air conditioning systems and some parts of the boiler system.

The squirrel did not survive.

Director Al Moll said the repairs will be covered by insurance, except for the department’s $50,000 (£30,000) deductible.

According to The Journal Gazette, crews are working to make repairs so the centre can open as planned on 7 June.

A nearly $2 million (£1.2 million) project is transforming the former McMillen Ice Arena into a community centre with basketball courts, an indoor track and other facilities.

Squirrels are notorious for causing damage to electrical equipment. In 2011 fibre network company Level 3 Communications said that squirrels accounted for 17 per cent of the annual damage to their fibre optic network.

And in 2010, a family were left devastated when they returned from a holiday to find their Hertfordshire home destroyed in a blaze after squirrels chewed through wires in the loft.

Last month, the UK government admitted defeat in their battle against grey squirrels and said that they would scrap a law intended to protect their native red cousins.

Ministers said they are abandoning laws requiring people to report the presence of grey squirrels on their land so they can be destroyed.

Additional reporting by Associated Press