FIRE chiefs say youths are risking their lives by setting fires in an arson-hit building.
Emergency services were once again called to the derelict Tunstall Court near Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool, which has become a magnet for arsonists and vandals.
Youths broke in to the historic listed building at around 7pm on Monday and set light to rubbish inside.
Fire officials are warning youngsters to keep away from the building saying it is unsafe and they are wasting valuable resources.
Two fire engines and the police turned out to the fire but the vandals had disappeared by the time they arrived.
Andy Hardy, a watch manager at Stranton Fire Station, said: “It is in a really dangerous condition and kids are taking their lives in their hands just by going inside.
“There are floorboards missing, I’m amazed no-one has been injured.
“It is also obviously anti-social for the area and we could be dealing with much bigger jobs.
“God forbid we had an urgent call elsewhere and we are down there putting out a bit of rubbish.
“It is crazy. There is security fencing to stop people going in but it just gets ripped down.”
Watch manager Hardy said rubbish fires at Tunstall Court are a regular problem for the brigade.
No further damage was caused in Monday’s call out.
Police, who carry out regular patrols of the area, issued a similar warning for vandals to stay away as recently as March this year.
The building is currently owned by developers Ruttle North East which has planning permission to transform the 5.4 acre site into housing.
It was put on the market last year with a whopping £4m price tag.
Work on the 1899-built Grade II building has yet to start and Ruttle has refused to rule out demolishing the site, although it says it has no immediate plans to do so.
Last month, the Mail reported how Tunstall Court has been nominated for the Victorian Society’s Top 10 Endangered Buildings 2013.
The list highlights the best and most at risk buildings in England and Wales.
Conservative Rural West ward councillor Ray Wells said he would be happy to see Tunstall Court razed to the ground.
Society bosses say buildings included on the list in the past have prompted people responsible to carry out improvements.