Emergency services in Hartlepool join forces to tackle problem of deliberate fires

Fire and police officials attended arson hot-spots in Hartlepool during the school half term to help tackle a rise in deliberate fires.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 2:37 pm

Cleveland Fire Brigade and Hartlepool Neighbourhood Police Team joined forces to engage with the community as part of a spring campaign linked to a spike in fires.

They attended events over the Easter holidays including at Summerhill Country Park which has suffered recent fires to large areas of land used as a home to wildlife.

The campaign comes as incidents of arson to rubbish, grassland, wheelie bins and derelict buildings, have leapt by more than 66% in the last year in Hartlepool.

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Police attended a community event at Summerhill County Park as part of a Spring campaign tackling deliberate fires. Picture by FRANK REID

There were 487 deliberate ‘secondary’ fires between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, compared to 813 for April 1 last year and March 31 this year.

A Cleveland Fire Brigade spokesman said: “The campaign aims to tackle deliberate fires. Traditionally we have more deliberate fires in the spring as the nights get progressively lighter over the Easter school holidays.

"We want to reduce and prevent incidents and provide safety advice to help change behaviours in prevalent areas, specifically Middlesbrough and Redcar, but still focusing on Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees.

"The campaign dates incorporate the start of spring, lighter nights, Easter and the school end of term holidays across the district.”

Around 30sq metres of gas was on fire at Summerhill Country Park in March. Photo: Summerhill Country Park and Visitor Centre

Claire McDonald, a senior outreach officer at Summerhill, said: "As soon as the clocks change and we’ve got the light nights we’ve had a spate of fires, some worse than others, so we’re working with the fire brigade to try and stop them on site.”

They are also working with the police who fly a camera-equipped drone over the site.

One of their worst fires was in an area used by amphibians during their mating season.

Claire McDonald, Hartlepool Borough Council's Countryside Outreach Officer. Picture by FRANK REID

Claire added: “It’s not just to the plants and grasses and everything else we have here it is the animals that are getting endangered.”

Other recent incidents in Hartlepool have included fires in a park at King Oswy on Easter Sunday and a blaze in Rossmere Park last month which damaged play equipment.

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