Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning about the unpredictability of fire to remind people about the dangers of arson.
What may start off as a small blaze can quickly spread and escalate with more devastating consequences, and fire officers are calling for more vigilance from the public and to report any suspicious activity.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service works closely with Cheshire Police and other agencies to stop this type of anti-social behaviour to preserve the safety of people and property.
Fire and rescue crews regularly visit schools to advise young people about the very real dangers of setting fires, and how what starts out as something small can soon escalate into a blaze that can put the lives of the public and firefighters at considerable risk.
One such incident happened earlier this summer in Cheshire West and Chester. A wheelie bin had been deliberately set alight right in front of a property. The bin was well alight when firefighters arrived on the scene to extinguish the blaze. This fire could easily have spread to involve the whole house, causing grave danger to the occupants.
Over in Halton there was a deliberate fire set on Runcorn Hill on 14 September. An area of grassland, woodland and crops, measuring approximately 20 square metres, was set alight. Firefighters had to douse the flames using a high pressure hose reel jet. A fire in the countryside can cause many thousands of pounds worth of damage and kill wildlife. Just ten seconds of carelessness can cause fires that take ten hours to put out and ten years to regrow.
In the Warrington area there was a deliberate fire incident at a school in Lymm, during the school holidays. A large skip full of carpets had been set alight, resulting in multiple calls to the Service. Firefighters put out the blaze and were given information by witnesses which has led to the questioning of two young suspects who are now facing court proceedings and possible prosecution.
In Cheshire East, in Tipkinder Park car park in Crewe, a car had been deliberately set on fire. The vehicle was well alight when firefighters arrived on the scene to extinguish the blaze. This fire could easily have spread to surrounding trees and parkland.
The multi-agency work has seen incidents decline over the last three years but there are still over 1500 recorded for 2014, and the personal cost, it can have, in lost lives, serious injury and emotional damage to families and communities is immeasurable.
Colin Heyes, the Service’s Arson Reduction Manager said: “This sort of crime is extremely dangerous and any fire puts the lives of the public and firefighters at considerable risk. It also takes up a lot of valuable time and resources. What people often don’t think about is what is near the fire they are starting and the unpredictable nature of fire means it can often spread quickly and have devastating consequences.
“We really would like people to be on their guard and report anyone they see lighting fires. We would therefore urge anyone with information about this sort of behaviour to report it by calling Crimestoppers, which can be done anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or Cheshire Police on 101.”