FIRE crews spent two-and-a-half hours dealing with a inferno inside two derelict homes after they were deliberately set alight in an arson attack.
Firefighters arrived to find the semi-detached homes on Elm Way, Thurnscoe, Barnsley, engulfed in flames.
The fire was so intense flames were shooting through the roof, so firefighters were banned from entering for fear of the buildings collapsing and putting crew members at risk.
Instead the blaze was tackled using an aerial ladder pump, which drenched the flames from above.
Fire bosses said although the houses were derelict and there was no risk of the flames spreading to other homes, the reckless arson attack tied firefighters up from 12.15am until 2.45am yesterday.
The incident meant they were unavailable to respond to other emergencies - putting lives at risk.
Station manager Ian French said: “We could not commit anybody inside the properties because there was a danger of the roof collapsing.
“We had to use the combined aerial rescue pump as a water tower and drench the flames from above until they were extinguished.
“Fortunately there were no other houses nearby so there was no risk of the fire spreading to any more properties.
“But we did have four appliances at the scene dealing with it which means they were potentially diverted away from a genuine life- threatening incident.
“This is another example of how arson attacks place lives in danger.
“Unfortunately derelict properties like these are vulnerable to arson.”
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Head of Community Safety Steve Makepeace, said: “Arson has fallen massively in recent years, thanks to our targeted education and prevention work.
“But we still attend around 5,000 deliberately started fires every year, with a massive cost to us and the taxpayer in South Yorkshire.
“We’d much rather be putting those resources into reducing deaths and serious injuries in accidental fires and on the roads.
“People maliciously starting fires can have no appreciation of the potential consequences of their actions.
“We’ve had tragedies before in South Yorkshire where people have died, either as a result of a small fire getting out of control, or because our fire engines were busy elsewhere dealing with one of these incidents.
“The public must help us, by reporting arsonists to the police, by storing rubbish and bins securely and by reporting potential arson risks to us online.
“We’d also ask that parents look out for the tell-tale signs of fire setting and contact us for advice, before it becomes a serious problem.
“These signs might include small burns around the home, matches or lighters going missing or an unusual fascination with fire.”
n People can report known arsonists, anonymously, to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Potential arson risks, such as piles of rubbish and fly tipping, can be reported at www.syfire.gov.uk
Arson attacks this week:
Rubbish fire in Monk Bretton Woods, Camborne Way, Barnsley.
Fire in manhole cover on Lidgett Lane, Dinnington, Rotherham.
Fence on Petre Street, Pitsmoor, Sheffield.
Grass in Clough Nurseries, Clough Road, Thornhill, Rotherham.
A garage on Pontefract Road, Cudworth, Barnsley.
A bin on Bisway Way, Wath upon Dearne, Rotherham.
Pile of timber, Flaxby Road, Darnall, Sheffield.