Grass blazes burn money

 Grass blazes burn money

9 April 2008

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Wales, UK — Firefighters are urging people to contact police with information about arsonists who are costing them £3m a year to put out grass fires.

The calls come after crews in the Rhondda had to deal with eight fires in just one day on Saturday.

Last year the Echo reported on the huge cost to taxpayers and the threat to real emergencies going unanswered because of the needless call-outs bombarded on South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

On Saturday, the first fire was reported at 11.25am at Brynbedw Road in Tylors- town, where witnesses reported seeing youths running away as firefighters arrived to tackle blazes raging less than 30 yards from houses.

Later that day firefighters fought grass fires at Ferndale, Cwmparc, Treherbert, Tylorstown, Pentre and Ystrad.

The first grass fires affected parts of Merthyr Tydfil in early February this year which coincided with the school half-term.

However, grass fires in the Rhondda are the worst in South Wales, costing the taxpayer more than £3m a year, with each fire costing an average of £1,100 to put out.

Station manager of Tonypandy Fire Station, Steve Doel, said he is concerned at the resources being wasted year after year.

“While our firefighters are attending mountain and grass fires, someone in the local area may need our response urgently and may have to wait longer than otherwise,” he said.

“Unfortunately, people continue to ignore our warnings about the dangers of starting these needless fires and, as a result, fire crews spend hours battling fires in difficult conditions when they may be required at genuine emergencies.

“We would urge anyone who knows anything about these fires and how they were started to call Crime- stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 and report it,” he added.

Last month Operation Phoenix, a joint scheme involving the fire service, police and the Forestry Commission, was launched at Tonypandy Fire Station and next Tuesday a hard-hitting grass fire film will be launched at Treorchy Comprehensive School.

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