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Summer months bring increase in deliberate fires

Fire crews have attended a concerning number of deliberate fires across the county over the summer months.  

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s firefighters responded to more than 180 fires that were started deliberately since the start of July, 100 more than last year. Some of these fires have spread rapidly due to the hot and dry conditions causing significant damage to property and farmland.  

Watch Commander Joe Gacon, the Service’s Arson Liaison Officer, said: “The last month or so has seen a very concerning increase in arson activity around the county. Seeing the number of fires happening, particularly with the weather being so hot and dry, is certainly very alarming. 

“Arson is a serious crime and can have severe consequences for those that start a fire, no matter how big or how small it is. Not only this, but any fire presents significant risks for anyone around the area if it gets out of hand, as well as for the fire crews sent to tackle them. 

“Firefighters have faced very demanding conditions as the high temperatures have made it physically challenging to tackle fires, particularly large field fires. Windy conditions will also make the fire spread quickly across large areas of land. It’s really disappointing that crews have had to attend fires like this that have been started maliciously, meaning they were committed to those incidents and couldn’t respond to other emergencies.” 

There are precautions people can take to help reduce the risk of a deliberate fire. 

Joe added: “Simple things like keeping rubbish bins out of sight and away from buildings, where possible, along with installing security lights or cameras, can all be a deterrent. Also ensuring any bulky household rubbish, such as sofas or washing machines, is taken to the local recycling centre and not left in the open. 

“Parents can also help by speaking with their children and ensuring they know the risks and dangers of fire. There have been reports from some incidents of groups of young people running from the scene of fires. Things like making sure that lighters and matches are kept well out of reach of children, as well as making sure they stay clear of disused or derelict buildings, can also make a big difference.  

“We work closely with the police and other partner agencies to try and prevent these types of incidents. However it is clear there is more work to do, and we need help from residents across the county. Reporting a fire, whether deliberate or not, is important so our crews can respond quickly and stop it spreading.”