ARSONISTS are being warned that setting fire to rubbish bins could risk lives after a spate of incidents in one Wearside neighbourhood.
Crews from Washington fire station have been regularly called out on fires in wheelie bins in Barmston, and the attacks have multiplied since Bonfire Night.
One watch from the station was called to six incidents on the green by Horsley Road and Waskerley Road during just one night shift.
“Setting fires deliberately to loose rubbish, garden refuse or wheelie bins may seem like a bit of fun, but I doubt that person would think that if someone was hurt or killed,” station manager Steve Anderson said.
“What may seem like harmless fun can quickly lead to a fire spreading and putting lives at risk. It’s also a criminal offence.
“Every time we mobilise a fire appliance to an incident like this, there is a needless cost to the taxpayer.”
Mr Anderson said the service was working with partners, including Sunderland City Council and the police, to educate schoolchildren. Every school was being invited to an interactive safety centre to learn of the dangers involved.
Police have stepped up foot patrols in the area in a bid to catch those responsible. They are also asking people to store their bins out of sight and avoid putting bins out the night before collection.
Sergeant Wayne Sinclair, of Washington Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have received a number of calls about rubbish fires on the green beside Horsley Road and Waskerley Road in Barmston over recent weeks. This has been causing concern for local residents.
“Setting fire to a wheelie bin is an act of criminal damage. It simply won’t be tolerated, and those responsible will face the consequences of their actions.”
Councillor Bernie Scaplehorn, chairman of Washington Area Committee, said: “We work closely with our community safety partners and residents to identify any local issues with antisocial behaviour, and decide what action we can take to prevent it re-occurring wherever we can.”
He added: “Equally important in reducing problems is talking to people to find out why they are happening.
“This next stage is education, going into schools and youth groups to explain the negative impact anti-social behaviour such as deliberately starting fires has on the community.”
Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call police in 101.