FIRESTARTERS have left large swathes of Hartlepool’s sand dunes scorched after a spate of arson attacks that have cost taxpayers £10,000 in just a week.
Cleveland Fire Brigade were called out five times last week to the dunes near Seaton Carew Golf Club and North Gare.
Fire brigade bosses have now warned anyone starting fires will be prosecuted.
Each incident costs the brigade – which is already facing financial pressure after years of government budget cuts – an average of £2,000 to tackle.
Firefighters were called out to the dunes twice on Tuesday, April 7, and once on Wednesday, and again on Thursday and Friday.
All were started between 7pm and 9pm.
Anyone caught setting fires will be prosecutedFire district manager Steve McCarten
A dog walker also reported on Facebook page how she caught two boys aged about 14 starting another fire on Sunday night which she stamped out.
Fire district manager Steve McCarten said: “There has been a number of small grass fires over the Easter holidays in the sand dunes area of Seaton Carew which occurred between 7pm-9pm.
“Cleveland Fire Brigade have been working with partners to reduce these fires by carrying out patrols in the area. Anyone caught setting fires will be prosecuted.
“We would ask anyone with any information on the perpetrators to contact Crimestoppers and we would ask parents to ensure their children know the dangers and consequences of setting fires.”
Seaton councillors Paul Thompson and Kelly Atkinson are appealing for parents to play their part in stopping their children starting fires.
Coun Thompson said: “This is simply mindless vandalism and those responsible should be held to account.
“Our local PCSO and Neighbourhood Police Officer are aware of the issue and are making visits to the site on an evening to educate any groups who may be there.
“Whoever is responsible needs to realise that they are not only putting themselves at risk by doing this but also the rest of the town by tying up the fire brigade unnecessarily.
“The financial implications are also an issue to a service that is already feeling the pinch in cuts to government funding.”
He added: “My personal plea to parents is if their children come home smelling of smoke to check their pockets and find out what they have been up to.
“Parents need to step up and take some responsibility.”
Couns Thompson and Atkinson appealed to anyone visiting Seaton who sees something suspicious to report it to the police immediately.
Coun Thompson is standing as an independent for Seaton in the forthcoming council election, as are Phil FENN UKIP, Pete KIRKHAM Green, Sue LITTLE Independent, Robbie PAYNE Labour, and Mike YOUNG Local Conservatives.