ARSONISTS are costing Hartlepool taxpayers a whopping £1.3m each year.
The shocking figure has been revealed as Cleveland Fire Brigade launches their Stop Arson – Enough is Enough campaign to tackle those starting deliberate blazes.
But that statistic for 2012 is lower than the year before, when Hartlepool shelled out £2.1m.
There were 384 incidents of arson in 2011, compared to 234 last year.
The Mail regularly reports on incidents at the old manor house Tunstall Court, in the West Park area of town, while recently businesses warned of arspnist targeting Park View Industrial Estate, off Brenda Road.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We will not let up in our battle against arson and it really is encouraging that incidents are reducing.
“Arson ruins lives, devastates communities and can destroy businesses which is why we are saying stop arson because enough is enough.
“Deliberate lighting of any fires will not and should not be tolerated by anyone and we have this other message: we are watching you and you will be caught.”
Incidents of arson across Cleveland fell last year by almost 30 per cent, from 2,931 to 2,088.
Despite the drop, arson still accounts for 71 per cent of fires and over the last three years it has cost the region a whopping £42m.
Mr Lancaster has appealed for communities to play their part in beating arson.
He said: “The fire brigade, police and other key agencies have excellent links with local communities and if anyone has suspicions that people they know might be involved in arson, we would urge them to get in touch.
“With the lighter nights and spring just around the corner, we will be working closely with the Police, stepping up our patrols across the Cleveland area.”
The campaign will include advertising, leaflets, posters, activities for youngsters, the use of social media and a competition.
The brigade has also produced a video to highlight the devastation caused by arson.
This can be viewed at www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/arson along with other campaign information.
To pass on information about arson incidents, ring the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.