Arson alert

A SHARP rise in the number of deliberate fires has prompted police and firefighters to issue a warning to parents and young people. Since the start of May, there have been 17 deliberately started grass and crop fires in Baldock and Letchworth GC. Across H

A SHARP rise in the number of deliberate fires has prompted police and firefighters to issue a warning to parents and young people.

Since the start of May, there have been 17 deliberately started grass and crop fires in Baldock and Letchworth GC.

Across Hertfordshire, the figure for the number of these fires since May has increased by 28 per cent on the same period last year.

Baldock and Letchworth Fire Station commander Ian McKenzie said the fire service always expects to see an increase in fires started in the open once the school holidays begin.


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But he added: "The speed with which these fires can spread can be astonishing - especially when standing crops of wheat or barley are blazing.

"I fear that one day someone will get injured - or worse - by a fire they have started.

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"We undertook a campaign to inform schoolchildren of the dangers of fire before the holidays, hoping to avoid the situation in which we now find ourselves.

"We are now asking parents' help to protect their own families.

"We have noticed a number of incidents in the wooded areas around Weston Woods, Baldock and Norton Common, Letchworth and also in the vicinity of Baldock railway station. Does your child play in these areas?"

Baldock ward officer Pc Steve Gibbs added: "We are doing all we can to support the fire service, and this includes sharing information about known and suspected arsonists.

"Everyone needs to know that this is a serious crime and that the police will actively pursue prosecutions.

"We know the areas young people congregate, and where these are near fire hotspots we will be checking to see whether they are carrying lighters or matches.

"People should be aware that having arson as a criminal record makes it extremely difficult for someone to find employment in the future.

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