Last year there was a six percent increase in deliberate fires across Cleveland over the bonfire period 15 October to 12 November – costing the local community nearly half a million pounds.
We are reminding the public and in particular young people that unofficial bonfires are classed as arson and anyone found deliberately setting fires could end up with a criminal record.
The Brigade will be working together with Cleveland Police and councils for the next four weeks on initiatives including patrolling hot-spot areas, school visits and removing bonfire rubbish.
Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer said: “These unofficial bonfires cause a nuisance to local people and ultimately cost the community money. They also tie up fire engines that should be undertaking vital life-saving prevention work or attending real emergencies.
“We want to be clear – unofficial bonfires are classed as arson incidents. Not only could they lead to criminal records they are inherently dangerous. Rubbish fires can spread quickly and the consequences can be horrific for anyone caught in the flames, so please don’t get involved in unofficial bonfires or let your children attend one.
“If you spot an unofficial bonfire being built please call us on 01429 872311 and we will work with local councils to remove the danger.”
Chief Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon of Cleveland Police added: “We want the public to work with us to ensure those who are intent on causing criminal damage are reported to police. I am urging the public not to tolerate fire setting in their community and report any incidents immediately.
“We will be carrying out additional patrols over this busy period but hope the community will join us in ensuring those who do set out to cause wanton damage are reported and stopped.”
If anyone has any information about arson or anti-social behaviour in their area, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Police on 101.
For further information and safety advice visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/bonfire or follow us on Facebook (/clevelandfb) or Twitter (@clevelandfb).