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Fire service plea for vigilance after spate of hot weather arson attacks in Norfolk

04 July 2018

Arsonists are putting lives at risk across Norfolk in the hot weather, with more than half of the open fires in Norfolk over the last year believed to have been started deliberately. Recent problem areas include Mousehold Heath and the Wymondham and Attleborough areas.

Garry Collins, Head of Fire Prevention and Protection at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, is urging anyone who sees people starting fires to call police and report them, or contact Crimestoppers.

“Arson costs lives. The majority of fires in the open are started deliberately and those people responsible will be caught and prosecuted. They are putting lives at risk and stretching our resources and we may well be needed elsewhere such as house fires and road traffic collisions that are life threatening.”

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee, said:  “We are asking for the public- business owners, farmers and families - to be extra vigilant in the current hot conditions and ask that the public avoids using portable barbecues, naked flames and discarding cigarettes. In this weather, fires can quickly spread and in remote locations they can be difficult for our fire and rescue service to access.”

Norfolk Constabulary's South Norfolk District Chief Inspector Alice Scott, said:  "Arson is an extremely serious crime, which not only causes significant damage, but can also threaten lives, especially in the tinder dry conditions we're experiencing at the moment.

"Officers are currently investigating a number of incidents in rural locations in the Attleborough and Wymondham areas as deliberate and fortunately no one has been injured as a result of them.

"I would urge residents, in particular farm owners, to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour by calling 999 if a crime is in progress or 101 if you have any information regarding the above incidents.  Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Since Monday 25 June, there have been more than 100 wildfires across the whole of the county, and a particular problem in rural areas.

Of the 297 Norfolk fires this year already, 166 are considered to be deliberate.  While overall, Norfolk has seen a big reduction in the number of fires over the last decade (2,246 in 2009/10 declining to 1,144 in 2016/17), there are still more deliberate fires than accidental.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service has a programme of working with local schools to educate children around the dangers of starting fires and this has helped to reduce the figures year on year.  The service also runs seven weeks of Crucial Crew safety sessions each year across Norfolk, aimed at 10 and 11-year-olds.  These include interactive workshops and safety advice on a range of issues including fire safety, internet safety, road safety and water safety.

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