Cleveland Fire Brigade has issued an urgent appeal for people to be responsible during the school holidays and help stop deliberate fires.
It comes with August and September being a hotspot for arson across moors, parks, gardens and other outdoor areas.
The Brigade is asking everyone to take care, clear-up after picnics and store rubbish away to make it difficult for the mindless minority who start fires and divert resources away from real emergencies where lives may be at risk.
Some 85% of fire calls relate to deliberate fires.
Steve Johnson, Senior Head, Prevention and Engagement, said: “With lockdown steadily easing along with the school holidays and hopefully warmer weather there will be more people out and about. We are just saying enjoy yourselves but look after your community. Taking rubbish home with you is a good start as glass, for instance, can reflect the sun and start a fire. Piles of rubbish are also an easy target for those intent on starting fires.
“Wildfires, especially on the moors, can spread very quickly and destroy the countryside and wildlife as well as tie-up valuable resources.
“At home it is simple just to put your wheelie bin out only on the day of collection and brought back in and stored securely away from property as quickly as possible. They should never be over-filled and any other rubbish should be stored safely away from property.
“We are also asking parents to warn youngsters about the dangers of playing with fire. Barbecues and bonfires may look as though they are out but they can quickly re-alight and cause damage. They should be fully extinguished”.
Community Liaison Officers will be out about in the summer at hotspots to remind people about fire safety.
The latest appeal comes as part of the Tackling Arson Together campaign launched by the Brigade earlier this year. It included a conference bringing partners and agencies together in a bid to reduce deliberate fires.
Figures show that in July, August and September last year there were nearly 1000 deliberate refuse and grassland fires
In 2018/19 there were 3,656 deliberate fires across Cleveland, costing local communities £17.9m.
The public can help by:
- Reporting issues such as fly-tipping in your area to www.fixmystreet.com
- Reporting incidents anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555 111