FIRE chiefs are warning arsonists they are being watched and will be snared after a spate of deliberate blazes over the last fortnight.
Cleveland Fire Brigade says it is operating a zero tolerance approach to firestarters as part of its long-running Enough is Enough campaign to stamp out the problem.
Hartlepool has seen a spate of grass fires recently that are believed to have been started deliberately by youths.
The town’s Summerhill Country Park has been blighted by a series of grass fires with crews from Stranton Fire Station called out nine times over the schools’ Easter break.
They were called out again to Sumnmerhill, off Catcote Road, on Tuesday night when they had to use beaters to put out the flames.
The same night, crews also were called to put out a grass fire on the edge of Hartlepool Golf Club which was again thought to have been started deliberately.
Arsonists were also blamed by the brigade for putting lives at risk by setting fire to the derelict Manor House next to Manor College of Technology, also over the Easter holidays.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We have a zero tolerance approach towards arsonists and we will continue to work jointly with Cleveland Police to investigate, catch the arsonists and then prosecute them.
“A small minority of people don’t seem to realise or take on board that arson is a serious criminal offence and it’s the deliberate setting of any fire, whether the fire is set with rubbish, on grassland or in a property.
“Arson can take lives, ruin lives, devastate communities and can destroy businesses and the countryside around us.
“This is why we are saying we need to stop arson because we have reached the stage where enough is enough.
“We will not let up in our battle against arson.
“We investigate every fire we attend and help the police to gather the evidence that has led to these convictions.
“With our joint investigations and with the help of our communities we can put a stop to arson and convict arsonists.”
Joint investigations between the brigade and Cleveland Police have seen firestarters jailed for between 12 months and five years when they have appeared in both magistrates and crown court.
People are now being urged to help the fire brigade and police in their efforts to stop arson.
Anyone with information about arson or who has suspicions of who may be involved in arson should call Crimestoppers free and in confidence on 0800 555111 or police on 101.
Advice on how to prevent arson can be found at www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/arson