Controlled burning of land helps reduce deliberate fires

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Fire chiefs have come up with a new tactic to beat arsonists - by creating a ‘scorched earth’ zone.

The fresh approach to tackling arson in Doncaster has led to big reductions in deliberate fires in the borough.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says small deliberate fires, such as bin and grass fires, fell by 20 per cent last month compared to April 2010.

The Doncaster reductions are thanks in part to a new initiative at Denaby Craggs, which saw firefighters work with partners, including Doncaster Council, to carry out controlled burning of some of the land.

By burning grass and foliage at Denaby Craggs it was hoped fire setters would be put off operating in the known arson hotspot area.

The initiative worked, as no deliberate fires were reported in the area since March, compared to more than 30 last Spring.

The drop comes despite deliberate fires traditionally increasing in April, due to lighter nights, better weather and the school holiday break. This April was also the warmest since records began.

Other arson reduction work in the borough included carrying out visits to Doncaster schools to tell young people about the consequences of deliberate fires and handing out arson reduction advice to residents in known trouble spots.

But fire safety officers are urging residents to remain vigilant as the battle to drive down deliberate small fires continues.

Group manager Martin Oldknow said: “The initiative at Denaby Craggs is just one example of how we are constantly using new ideas to help win the fight against deliberate fires, which are a massive drain on our resources, cost the taxpayer millions of pounds every year and represent a significant safety risk to the public.

“But residents must stay vigilant to the threat of arson and help us maintain these reductions, by telling us about potential arson risks, safely storing their rubbish and reporting fire setters who might be operating in their area.”