WITH the start of the school summer holidays, Cheshire Fire Service is warning residents and businesses to be extra vigilant to protect their property from arsonists.
Firefighters will be monitoring high risk areas regularly over the holiday period, not only to fight fires but to also spot any unwanted waste which may have built up.
It comes after Ellesmere Port fire crews were given the run-around on Monday night by a gang of youths.
Crew manager Paul Harrison said four or five youngsters, aged between nine and 13, were suspected of starting six grass and rubbish fires in the Mill Lane, Cambridge Road and Rivacre Valley areas between 6pm and 10.30pm.
He added: “Police were called to each incident and are investigating them.
“The youths were going around setting fire to grass and rubbish about every half an hour.
“But with us attending each of these incidents, it means there is reduced fire cover for the rest of the town.
“What if something serious happens?”
Cheshire Fire Service says around 40% of all deliberate fires in the UK are thought to be caused by juveniles.
In 2000, 5,300 fires were started by children under the age of 10. These led to 13 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries and the estimated cost was £40m.
Tips to reduce the risk of arson include:
Homes, shops, schools and other bodies should store wheelie bins/refuse and recycling containers in a secure area until the day of collection.
CCTV, where fitted, should cover waste storage compounds.
Don’t overfill your wheelie bin/refuse bag and don’t allow rubbish to accumulate against buildings, sheds, garages etc.
Information about arson and criminal damage should be reported to Ellesmere Port police on 0845 4580000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.