TEENAGERS are risking their lives by setting fire to a former Wearside factory.
Emergency crews warned today that vital resources were being tied up at the former Instrip Demolitions site in Washington.
The building has become a Mecca forteenagers who are setting fires in rubbish-strewn rooms on the first floor.
Fire officers have repeatedly called for action to not only secure the area but also prevent harm to crews sent to tackle blazes there.
But despite their protests, fires are continuing to be lit and emergency resources tied up.
At the weekend crews from Washington Station spent two hours bringing a fire under control at a two-storey derelict building on the site.
Watch manager Steve Garrington, from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “For two hours we were tied up with this, meaning other crews had to cover for us.
“I don’t think the kids who are doing this realise what they are exposing themselves to. We will not send our crews into the buildings so we are forced to try and put out a fire which is on the first floor from outside, on the ground.”
In the latest blaze, rubbish was set alight after being pushed up against the gable end of a wall in the first floor of the building.
Graeme Miller, from Teal Farm, reported seeing the fire as he was out walking his dog late on Friday night.
He said: “I saw the fire in the upstairs window and called the fire brigade, who were there within just a couple of minutes.
“Unfortunately, when you get a building like this, which is tucked out of the way and is derelict, it automatically becomes a magnet for antisocial behaviour.”
Mr Miller, along with his wife, Fiona, a councillor for the area, said they believed the problem would be solved once the building was demolished and work began on planned housing for the area.
Jennifer Alderson, 46, who also walks her dog close to the derelict buildings, said: “They’ve tried to board up the building to stop the kids getting in, and there are signs saying there is 24-hour security, but nothing seems to stop them.
“Bollards have been put up to stop people just driving down here and dumping their rubbish, which was something that was quite common for a while.”
Almost two years ago developers announced plans to create executive housing, a pub/restaurant, takeaway, shops and business units on the land.