D'oh! Springfield's giant Simpsons doughnut gets toasted

The Springfield doughnut is toast.

On Friday morning, the doughnut's future as a tourist attraction in the New Zealand town of Springfield hung in the balance.

On Friday night, it was the target of an arson attack.

Like the Eiffel Tower, the structure was originally meant to be temporary.

It was unveiled in July 2007, and given a six-week residency to promote the premiere of The Simpsons Movie.

The 3.5-metre-diameter doughnut proved so popular with locals and tourists, that the Springfield Township Committee applied for it to remain permanently.

Township committee chairman Bill Woods said it was suspicious that the doughnut was set on fire the day of hearings into the doughnut's future.

"This was planned," he said.

"Someone's buggered the doughnut. It wasn't revellers from the pub. These people used firelighters; there was still one or two left after the fire burned out and a keroseny smell."

He said some opponents saw the doughnut as a visual degradation of the landscape while others thought the town should "not associate with American cartoons about dysfunctional families".

Volunteer firefighters were not alerted to the smoking doughnut because it was made of polystyrene encased in fibreglass. The polystyrene disintegrated without flame, while the fibreglass melted only at the rear.

"There's an additional hole in the doughnut," Woods said. "It will be rebuilt, maybe this time out of concrete."

He said the doughnut would be the subject of "hot discussion" at tomorrow's meeting of the township committee.

Springfield Hotel owner Malcolm West said talk was rife over the arsonist's identity.

"It must be the most photographed item in New Zealand, every single campervan stops here ... I'm pretty p..... off."

Sammy Northcott, who works at the Springfield Garage, said the burnt doughnut was a hot topic among customers.

"We've had a few locals who are quite grumpy about it," she said. "It's already cost taxpayers quite a bit to go through the consent process and then it gets burnt on the day they had the hearing."

The Press/stuff.co.nz