Hartlepool fire chiefs ‘greatly concerned’ as arsons hit 100 in a month
A worrying 100 deliberate fires were started in just one month in Hartlepool - more than three times the previous year, new figures show.
Fire chiefs have voiced concerns over the sharp rise in deliberate blazes in April, up from just 30 in the same month in 2018.
Cleveland Fire Brigade say they are working with council and police partners as well as schools to try to identify firestarters and spread the message that arson is a crime.
Steve Johnson, Area Manager for Prevention said: “The rise in deliberate fires in Hartlepool during the month of April 2019 compared to last April 2018 is a great concern.
“Sadly, this rise isn’t just in Hartlepool; we have seen an increase across our brigade area and also nationally.
“We work closely with our partners and are part of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership group alongside Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Police.
“The action group aims to make the area a safer place, one initiative is carrying out days of action where a particular area is targeted and advice is given out to residents.”
He added: “Another way in which we are trying to reduce these deliberate fires being set is by identifying the individuals responsible.
“We have made schools aware of the problems in the hope they can assist in spreading the message that arson is a crime and those found committing these crimes will have action taken against them.”
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The vast majority of the fires in April – 95 – were to rubbish, grassland, wheelie bins and derelict buildings.
Four were to property, vehicles and/or involved casualties and/or five or more pumping appliances.
One was to a house in Hart Lane, Hartlepool, which caused significant damage but thankfully nobody was hurt.
Mr Johnson added one of the biggest factors was this year’s two-week school Easter holidays falling in the middle of April.
And with the warm weather, grass areas were drier than last year.
To help reduce the opportunities for arsonists, people are reminded to only put their bins out on the day of collection and store them in a safe place afterwards as soon as possible.
Rubbish that needs removing, and other problems in an area, can be reported on the website www.fixmystreet.com or on the free smartphone app.
If anybody has any information on the perpetrators they can report an incident anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.