Grass fires sweep Merseyside

Grass fires sweep Merseyside

16 March 2010

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United Kingdom —  A MERSEYSIDE motorway was almost closed down after as the region saw a massive rise in grass fires.

Crews have been called to up to 83 blazes during the last three days – equating to more than 25 every day since Saturday.

Firefighters said a combination of the recent dry weather and vandals maliciously starting blazes was responsible for the catalogue of incidents.

In one of the latest a crew from Kirkby was sent to Valley Road yesterday evening after a deliberately lit grass fire.

It spread dangerously close to the M57 motorway, between junctions 5 and 6, and an appliance was stationed on the hard shoulder of the carriageway as firefighters fought the flames.

The blaze crept close to electricity pylons prompting fears the motorway may close as crews stood just five metres from the highway.

The Kirkby crew were also called out to three other grass blazes in Tower Hill, one in Fazakerley and one in Westvale during their shift.

Nearly all of them have been deliberate.

On some occasions crews said they have watched gangs trying to light the grass and had to chase them away.

Watch manager Steven Clarke said: “These fires have really taken hold with the lack of rain in the last few weeks.

“It has ended up so bad down here that we had Kirkdale crews attending.”

In St Helens, crews went out to five grass fires between 6pm-10pm.

Reports of grass fires have included verges on roadsides set alight, fields and other types of undergrowth.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said they had received 40 grass fire calls within the last 24 hours.

There are fears the increase could lead to a worrying drain of resources and divert crews away from genuine emergencies.

Firefighters said blazes could easily spiral out of control and lead to more serious consequences if they were started near built-up areas.

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