Cleveland Fire Brigade has expressed concern over the recent rise in grass fires and has appealed to members of the public for their support.
In one particular area of Cleveland - Eston Hills on the outskirts of Middlesbrough - there have been 57 grass fires in the last 26 days compared to 30 in the same period last year. Guisborough Woods has also suffered with 20 fires in the last 26 days compared to three in the same period last year.
Neil Roberts, Community Liaison Officer with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: "During the school holidays we often see a rise in grass fires but the prolonged dry spell has compounded the situation. We are very lucky to have some beautiful countryside on our doorstep but unfortunately such areas also attract undesirables who seem intent on starting fires deliberately. Not only are people's lives been put at risk, but the perpetrators are blighting our countryside and harming important wildlife."
Mr Roberts went on to say that fire officers are working closely with the police to try and bring a halt to the situation. "We are working closely with police colleagues and have stepped up patrols on Eston Hills and other areas where grass fires are prevalent. Grass and moorland fires can be extremely dangerous. If there is a strong wind the fire can spread faster than a person can run. They can also very time-consuming and resource intensive and divert firefighters away from other potential life-threatening incidents.
"We are determined to continue working in partnership with communities and the police to prevent such fires from happening," he added.
Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant Andy King of Cleveland Police added: "A number of arrests have been made regarding these fires and enquiries are ongoing. Cleveland police will continue to carry out joint patrols with the fire brigade and take positive action against anybody setting fires."
Posted: 1221pm, 28.04.11, firstname.lastname@example.org