Fire chiefs’ warning after arsonists hit dozens of derelict homes

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service District Manager for Sunderland John Hall
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service District Manager for Sunderland John Hall
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FIRE chiefs are sending out a warning after dozens of derelict Wearside houses were targeted by arsonists.

Crews were called to 61 empty properties which had been torched on Wearside between April 2011 and March this year.

A derelict house on Sherwood Court, Doxford Park, Sunderland.'Firefighters have warned off the dangers of setting fire to empty houses.

A derelict house on Sherwood Court, Doxford Park, Sunderland.'Firefighters have warned off the dangers of setting fire to empty houses.

In the latest incident, yobs started a blaze in a house in Hamsley Court, Doxford Park.

Firefighters risked their lives to enter the property as they were unsure whether there were still children inside, as reported in the emergency call.

Crew manager Andrew Lowes, of Sunderland Central Community Fire Station, said: “This is extremely dangerous for everyone.

“We would ask parents to speak to their children about the dangers of playing with fire and entering derelict buildings, as there were several holes in the floor at this one.”

The Hamsley Court fire happened on Sunday night and it took crews about an hour to put out the flames

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service works with partner agencies to make sure derelict houses are secured as much as possible until they are torn down.

But youngsters have ignored the danger signs to break inside.

John Hall, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service district manager for Sunderland, said: “We would advise anyone, especially children, against entering derelict buildings as there could be many hidden dangers.

“What they may think of as a bit of fun could not only result in putting themselves at risk but they could put the lives of emergency crews at risk too.

“Fires started deliberately in derelict buildings could also spread to nearby buildings putting others at risk and could tie up crews and appliances which may be needed elsewhere.

“We work very closely with our partners to make derelict properties awaiting demolition as secure as possible up to the point where they are demolished.”

The Doxford Park estate has been plagued by arson attacks on houses waiting to be torn down.

The area forms part of Gentoo’s plans to redevelop Doxford Park.

Work on the 750-house masterplan started in 2003 and is expected to be finished by 2018.

Already, hundreds of houses have been flattened and rebuilt.

Twitter: @sunechochief