Fire service plea ignored by arsonists

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ARSONISTS deliberately started a total of 92 small fires in four days around South Yorkshire over the Royal Wedding weekend - days after a plea for them to stop putting lives at risk.

The figures were revealed today by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of a campaign to persuade yobs to think twice before starting fires deliberately, taking up crews’ time which could delay them reaching more serious incidents and risk fatalities.

The figures show there were 22 deliberate fires on Friday involving rubbish, grass or bins, 16 on Saturday, 31 on Sunday and 23 on Monday.

Four of the incidents developed into large blazes.

Each of the four - at Engine Lane, Grimethorpe; Wharncliffe Woods, Sheffield; Droppingwell Road, Blackburn, Rotherham; and Tankersley - required 12 to 15 firefighters.

The fire service is deeply concerned about the potential for a repeat of a tragedy almost a decade ago when schoolgirl Anneka Parsisson, of Malin Bridge, suffered fatal injuries in a house fire because a crew based just 60 seconds away at Rivelin was away at an allotment fire.

But officials are also warning that even grass fires could become deadly due to prolonged dry conditions.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue area manager Dave Kiddy said: “With the prospect of rain very unlikely in the next 24 hours, we’re asking members of the public to remain vigilant to the threat of large grassland fires.

“These fires can quickly spread, endangering life and property, as well as tying up significant proportions of our resources, which might otherwise be needed to attend further, life threatening emergencies.

“As well as taking some basic precautions when accessing the local countryside, residents can also assist us by reporting those suspected of deliberately starting fires.”

Grassland fires in other parts of the country have developed into large incidents.

Hundreds of firefighters are currently tackling large gorse, grass and forest fires in West Yorkshire, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Berkshire, Merseyside and Lancashire. One of the largest incidents at Swinley Forest, Berkshire, is being dealt with by more than 150 firefighters.

Firefighters warn the public not to throw cigarette ends on the ground, or leave bottles or glass in woodland, and to use barbecues only in safe areas.