500 Deliberate Grassfires In South Wales
Fire Crews in South Wales say they’ve been called to around 500 grassfires so far this month.
Between the 1st and 16th April, 184 have been reported in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
68 have been reported in Caerphilly, 67 in Blaenau Gwent, 52 in Bridgend, 40 in Merthyr, 24 in Newport and 23 in Torfaen.
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service say the majority have been started deliberately.
The Easter holidays are historically a peak period for grass fires, due to children being off school.
On Thursday alone, the equivalent of 107 football pitches were destroyed, the largest was in Ynyshir.
The fire spread to approximately 1,000 disused tyres stored on open ground and required the attendance of six appliances.
Chief Fire Officer for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Huw Jakeway, says people’s attitudes towards grassfires need to change:
“This type of incident can no longer be seen as “risk free fun” and the Service is committed to working with our communities to change this culture through engaging hearts and minds.
“We’re urging our communities to think about the consequences of deliberate fire setting and the impact on the countryside and wildlife, as well as the risks to our fire fighters and their safety when tackling these incidents.
“Deliberate grass fires are an act of arson, which is a serious crime and we work closely with both Police Services to bring those responsible to justice.”
The Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Cllr Andrew Morgan says he's frustrated over the recent spate of grassfires:
"Deliberately lit grass fires are placing our communities and fire men and women at serious risk.
"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of the few who are deliberately setting these fires- the simple fact is their thoughtless actions are putting lives at risk.
"The level of resources South Wales Fire are having to dedicate to tackle deliberately lit grass fires in Rhondda Cynon Taf is putting pressure on the resources available to deal with any accidental fires which may occur.
"I would strongly urge anyone with any information on individuals involved in starting these fires to contact the Police to report them before they can do any further damage.
"In the last 24 hours, the fire service has received over 400 calls and been forced to bring appliances in from outside the county borough to respond."