A senior firefighter is urging people to stay at home and away from country parks and heathland following a spate of deliberate fires in open spaces in Staffordshire.
These incidents are causing firefighters to be taken away from what could potentially be real life-threatening emergencies.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has received four calls to deliberate fires since the lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 came into effect.
The Service reported that there have been 69 deliberate fires across the county this month. In last 36 hours firefighters have attended blazes in Chasewater, Foley Park in Fenton, Kidsgrove, and a tree on fire on Keele Golf course.
Director of Community Safety, Howard Watts, said: “These incidents are causing firefighters to be taken away from what could potentially be real life-threatening emergencies.”
He echoed calls from Staffordshire Police to stay away from countryside parks and beauty spots including the Roaches and Cannock Chase.
The Service is also urging landowners not to undertake unnecessary prescribed or controlled burns.
“We are also concerned that there is the potential for fires in parkland and countryside as there has been an increase in visitors. The message is for people to stay at home or exercise locally,” he said.
“While most people are staying away, no one should be travelling to these areas as it is vital we all follow the government’s guidelines and stay safe.”
He added: “Fires that are caused deliberately or carelessly in the open can have devastating effects on the environment, but importantly endanger people’s lives and homes.
“Please help us to reduce demand at this time and ensure we are not over-stretched. Firefighters are working hard and we’re in the frontline with colleagues fighting against Covid-19, still responding to emergencies and helping to look after the vulnerable in our society.”
We would urge anyone who has information on suspected deliberate fires to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
If you see a fire, or anyone starting a fire, please call 999 immediately.