Merseyside firefighters tackle 170 arson attacks in just one week
Huge leap from last year's figure of just 58 in same seven-day period
Merseyside Fire and rescue service engine on the way to a fire
Firefighters have had to tackle 170 arson attacks across Merseyside in just one week.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue said the figures for July 4 – 11 were a huge increase on just 58 over the same period in 2012.
Hot weather has been blamed as part of the problem as tinder-dry grassland becomes the perfect fuel for flames to feed on.
The rise in deliberate fires has seen fire crews tackle blazes across swathes of grassland and vegetation.
And fire chiefs today called on members of the public to report offenders and vowed to track down those responsible.
Arson reduction manager for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Ian Mullen said: “Across Merseyside we have seen a significant rise in deliberate fires in the last week, compared to the same period last year.
“This is as a result of the warm weather and more people being out and about.
“There is also a direct link between deliberate fires and the warm temperatures as the grassland and vegetation is very dry, which creates ideal conditions for a fire to develop. This means that any fire which is started deliberately is likely to spread very easily.”
Mr Mullen warned that deliberate fires set on public grassland are treated as arson and would be investigated.
He said: “All deliberate fires are investigated and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Arson Reduction teams will be working with all Merseyside Police, local authorities and other agencies involved to identify offenders.”
In Liverpool there were 75 deliberate fires between July 4 and July 11 – more than double the same period last year.
In Wirral there were 24, compared to 10 in 2012. Knowsley had 17 deliberate fires in that week while Sefton had 42 and St Helens 12.
Police and fire service staff have increased patrols in known areas of deliberate fire setting and will target persistent arsonists.
Paul Murphy, district manager for Wirral, said: “We investigate every fire we are called to and pass information to the police.
“This had led to a number of people being convicted for arson in recent years, including this year in Merseyside.”
Fire chiefs also called on people to take care when enjoying barbecues and to avoid playing in open water.
Mr Murphy said: “Please tell your children to head off to the local pool rather than taking a dip in open water. Firefighters will be visiting known areas where children swim to engage with them and highlight the dangers.”