Fire chief issues a warning after a rise of deliberate grass fires in Grindon and Thorney Close
Fire crews have been called to several grass fires in the Grindon and Thorney Close areas of Sunderland over the past week.
The latest deliberate fire took place on Tuesday, August 11 when a fire crew from Farringdon were called to a field just off Tay Road in Thorney Close at around 1.15pm.
The Barnes Park extension between Grindon and Thorney Close has also been a hot spot for deliberate arson attacks in recent days.
Now Richie Rickaby, the area manager for community safety at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Sevice (TWFRS), has issued a warning to highlight the dangers of starting small grass fires.
He said: “With the warm and dry weather we’ve been enjoying recently our firefighters have been dealing with several grass fires in the Grindon and Thorney Close areas of Sunderland which we believe have been started deliberately.
“Setting fires might seem like harmless fun but things can easily get out of hand, a small grass fire can spread and become much larger and dangerous. If you set a fire, simply put, you are risking your lives and firefighters lives.
“Deliberate fires present huge risks to not only the perpetrators, cause damage to the environment, as well as presenting a challenge to our firefighters and other emergency services who respond. If we are attending deliberate fires, it means we are unavailable to attend other fires or emergencies.”
The warning comes after Lib Dem Councillor Stephen O’Brien slammed those who start the fires as ‘mindless vandals’.
Despite Sunderland City Council owning the Barnes Park extension, a local farmer cuts the grass and uses the cuttings to make into hay bales to use on the farm.
Now TWFRS are working with the council to ensure the cuttings are removed to prevent any further fires.
Mr Rickaby added: “We’re working proactively with the local authority to have the grass cuttings removed and crews have been carrying out socially distanced deliberate fire prevention advice in the area.
“We would encourage parents to speak to their children about the risks of deliberate fire setting.”