ARSONISTS have torched more than 1,500 bins risking thousands of lives as firefighters are forced to deal with rubbish blazes, figures reveal.

Over the past four years Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has been called out to 1,834 bin fires across the region and spent hundreds of hours battling rubbish fires after wheelie bins and recycling boxes were set alight.

And in figures disclosed to the Chronicle under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) the service has revealed that almost all of these fires have been caused by arsonists, who are risking residents’ lives and wasting money and resources with their ‘mindless’ actions.

Since 2009 arsonists have deliberately set fire to 1,592 bins across the region, targeting industrial units, housing estates, parks and even schools, sometimes setting fire to wheelie bins and posting the blazes on YouTube.

Although the exact cost of battling the bin blazes is not yet known, the cost to the fire service is thought to be thousands of pounds, but Cheshire West and Chester Council has assured residents the cost of replacing the bins is not down to the tax payer but provider May Gurney.

Despite the number of bin fires dropping by 37% over the past four years, arsonists are continuing to waste firefighters time setting fire to 292 bins across Cheshire since May last year alone.

And with the number of recycling containers and bins going up since the new waste management service was adopted in October, firefighters fear more bins will be attacked as people leave bins out in the streets for days on end.

One of the worst areas for the arson attacks continues to be Ellesmere Port, where crews have been called 146 times for bin fires since 2009, and the worst area is Warrington with 251 arson attacks in the same period.

Since May last year fire crews have been called to reports of deliberate bin fires in:

Chester 12 times

Congleton six times

Crewe 26 times

Ellesmere Port 30 times

Tarporley once

But no bin fires were reported to crews in Poynton, Nantwich and Malpas.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s arson reduction manager Colin Heyes said the arsonists were risking residents’ lives, but the service would not rest until they were stopped.