Serial arsonists ‘risking lives’ warns South Yorkshire fire chief

Laughton Road, Dinnington
Laughton Road, Dinnington
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Firefighters are battling against arsonists who have started almost 400 fires in the last month, The Star can reveal.

They have warned the service is stretched so thinly they fear lives are being put at risk.

In one town, they had to deal with six arsons in just one night.

South Yorkshire firefighters are now visiting hotspots in an arson crackdown.

Crews have been called to a spate of deliberate blazes in Dinnington – with six incidents on one night alone this week.

And a fire chief has warned the crimes could mean fire engines are detained when they are needed for more serious incidents such as a road smashes or house fires.

Figures released by South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue show there have been almost 400 arson attacks in the county in the last month.

Mick Riddiough, watch manager at Aston Park fire station, said: “We do appear to have a serial arsonist, which means we are getting a lot of calls in the Dinnington area.

“The fact is that every time we attend a fire like this, it is putting people’s lives at risk, because then there is no cover for life risks.

“If we are going out to what we call anti-social behaviour fires, it’s committing that appliance to a small fire, so it isn’t available then for a life-threatening incident such as a road traffic collision or a house fire.

“Because fire engines are getting thinner and thinner on the ground, due to Government cuts and so on, they are getting more valuable.”

The most recent arson strikes in Dinnington involved a bin fire in Alexandra Park, on Alexandra Road, at 9.15pm on Monday, charity bins outside Tesco on Undergate Way at 9pm and garden rubbish on Falcon Way at 5.45am.

There were also three fires involving residents’ bins in Laughton Road that night.

Police are investigating, but said the six attacks were not believed to be linked.

Inspector Nick Gaskell said extra patrols would take place with ‘scanning’ to remove waste, give advice and carry out enforcement if needed.

Graham Wilkinson, acting brigade secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, said there were fewer resources to cover blazes, if crews were dealing with an arson, because of Government cuts.

He said: “The problem is the cover would have to come from somewhere else.

“I do get a lot of calls from firefighters when we have a bigger incident telling me how stretched they were. How far can we stretch our firefighers before somebody

Arson log

Fires on Wednesday, August 21:

1.16am, Refuse on Garth Close, Darnall, Sheffield

2.02am, Park Hill, Sheffield

2.13am, Grass on Doncaster Road, Thrybergh, Rotherham

4.40am, Refuse on Saville Street, Dalton, Rotherham

5.19am, Refuse on Washington Avenue, Wombwell, Barnsley

9.46am, Refuse on Rowms Lane, Swinton, Rotherham

12.32pm, Grass on Littlefield Lane, Wombwell

1.06pm, Tree, fence or lamp on Lamb Lane, Firbeck, Rotherham

1.34pm, Refuse on South Street, Dinnington, Rotherham

2.57pm, Refuse on Gray Avenue, Aston, Sheffield

3.11pm, Grass on Denby Street, Bentley, Doncaster

4.19pm, Grass on Ouseburn Street, Darnall, Sheffield

4.47pm, Mansfield Drive, Intake, Sheffield

4.52pm, Tree, fence or lamp in Bawtry, Doncaster

6.14pm, Grass on Mulberry Way, Armthorpe, Doncaster

6.27pm, Urban Road, Hexthorpe, Doncaster

6.51pm, Tree, fence or lamp, Harrington Street, Doncaster town centre

8.33pm, Straw on Slade View, Slade Hooton, Rotherham

9.10pm, Refuse on Little Lane, Clay Lane, Wheatley Park, Doncaster

9.21pm, Refuse on Oldroyd Aveue, Grimethorpe, Barnsley

9.43pm, Grass on Crookes Lane, Carlton, Barnsley