People are being asked to take simple safety steps to avoid being an easy target for arsonists who cost taxpayers in Hartlepool £64,000 in just two weeks around Easter last year.
The tips for householders from Cleveland Fire Brigade include not leaving your wheelie bins and rubbish out before collection day and calling your local council to pick up furniture and other items from spring clear-outs.
Businesses are urged to ensure skips and waste bins have locks and are kept in a secure place away from buildings.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection at the brigade, said: “We’re asking people to be sensible and remember to put bins out only on the morning of collection and bring them back in as quickly as possible. Avoid leaving any rubbish or unwanted household items lying around outside your property.
“Enough is enough. Let’s make it as difficult as possible for those who are thinking of behaving totally irresponsibly and causing damage.
“Fires involving rubbish and bins can easily spread to your home, putting you at risk. Don’t let it happen to you. We are working closely with the police and action will be taken against anyone deliberately starting a fire.”
Deliberate fires cost Cleveland £470,000 last Easter period between March 27 and April 13, including £64,000 in Hartlepool.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Downes, from Cleveland Police, said: “These types of offences will not be tolerated. Ultimately, arsonists could put lives in danger and anyone who commits such offences will feel the full force of the law.”