Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is again urging people to stay at home and away from country parks and heathland during the current government lockdown following a spate of deliberate fires in open spaces across the county.
The service has received 156 calls to deliberate fires since the current Covid-19 lockdown came into effect a month ago – this is on top of the large number of accidental fires that have also been faced as a result of the warm weather.
Earlier this week (21 April) firefighters attended a blaze at Cannock Chase which saw 12 fire crews attend the scene. 85 firefighters from Cannock, Rugeley, Penkridge, Gnosall, Chase Terrace, Eccleshall, Uttoxeter, Abbots Bromley and Rising Brook tackled the blaze – which is believed to have been started accidentally.
These deliberate incidents are causing firefighters to be taken away from what could potentially be real life-threatening emergencies.
Director of Community Safety, Howard Watts has echoed calls from Staffordshire Police to stay away from our county’s parks and beauty spots – including the Roaches and Cannock Chase – as a result of this increase in incidents.
His warning comes as the Cannock Chase district has been the target of 19 deliberate fires during the lockdown: “These deliberate incidents are causing firefighters to be taken away from what could potentially be real life-threatening emergencies.”
“Although the number of fires in this period is comparable with previous years this is much more serious during a lockdown.
“The message is for people to stay at home or exercise locally staying two metres apart,” he said.
“While most people are staying away, no one except those living in the immediate area 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.