YOBS are ruining a Wearside park by starting a series of fires.
The arsonists have been targeting Hetton Lyons Country Park and torching grassed areas in a deliberate spate of vandalism.
One blaze has already caused considerable damage to a bankside area.
Now police in the Hetton area are working closely with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Sunderland City Council and the Safer Sunderland Partnership to tackle the issue.
Inspector Lisa Musgrove, of Northumbria Police, said: “The park is a great facility for members of the community to enjoy and also gives somewhere for youths to go and spend time.
“We don’t want to stop them from using the park but are asking they do so considerately.
These fires are causing a great amount of disruption and could potentially be extremely dangerous. Not only that, the damage is ruining the look of the park.
“Officers will carry out regular patrols throughout the park and, if necessary, they will take further action which could see those responsible for starting the fires arrested for arson. We will continue to work with our partner agencies to make our communities even safer and ensure those who are causing the most harm and disruption are dealt with.”
John Hall, TWFRS district manager, said: “Antisocial behaviour fires account for three quarters of all fires we attend and we actually go to more in April than we do in November, which includes Bonfire Night.
“Not only do these fires cause damage to property, the environment and tie up firefighters unnecessarily but they can also cause injuries and deaths. It may seem like a bit of fun at the time, but fire is unpredictable and can spread very quickly and endanger lives.”
Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Coun Harry Trueman, added: “Hetton Lyons Country Park is a wonderful community asset for us all to enjoy. We need to work together to make sure that the behaviour of a tiny minority isn’t allowed to spoil it for everyone else.
“We can all be very proud of the parks and open spaces our city provides to residents and visitors, and all need to take care to protect them.”