ARSONISTS tore down and burned a barrier put up to stop them setting fires behind a busy shopping parade.
Fed-up traders today told how youths are causing a menace by continually starting blazes at a garage behind their premises in St Luke’s Terrace, Pallion.
In the latest incident, wooden hoarding put up to keep the arsonists out was torn down and set alight late at night, with smoke billowing into nearby shops.
The attack tied up firefighters for more than an hour and meant shopkeepers had to be called out.
Paula Hewitt, property manager on behalf of the landlord, said a new roller-shutter was due to be put up at the garage this week to keep the vandals out.
“We’ve had some fires, it’s children at night time,” she said. “We’ve tried to do the best we can, but unless you’ve got 24-hour patrols down there, there’s nothing anyone can do.”
Ms Hewitt said metal coverings were being put up in an attempt to stop people breaking in until the roller shutters were fitted.
“We’ve had to go through the insurance company to claim for it and, as you can imagine, it can take some time to go through the process.”
Traders, however, were less than impressed.
The latest fire filled some shops with smoke and was a headache for key-holders called out to allow firefighters access to their businesses.
“You can still smell the smoke,” said one woman, who did not want to be named.
“This has been going on for a long time – they’re always starting fires, we’re sick of it.”
Acting watch manager Martin Ward from Sunderland East fire station said the incident at St Luke’s Terrace was one of nine nuisance fires last Thursday night.
He said: “We were out for more than an hour to deal with a fire outside a building in St Luke’s Terrace. Hoarding had been torn off and set on fire.
“We went out at 10pm and got back about 11.15pm. The problem was we had to wait for key-holders to come out because the smoke had gone into a number of shops.
“We were exceptionally busy all night, we had about nine call outs – all small fires.”