Damage from wildfires that swept across Highlands could top £26.5m

Gwent sees 111 grass fires in 10 days

17 May 2011

published by www.southwalesargus.co.uk

United Kingdom — GWENT fire fighters tackled 111 grass fires in the first days of May, costing the tax payer more than £200,000.

Figures from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service show that between May 1 and May 10, fire crews attended 45 grass fires in Caerphilly, 35 in BlaenauGwent, 16 in Newport, 11 in Torfaen, and four in Monmouthshire.

The service estimates the fires – most of which are deliberately set – cost £1,970 each to deal with, leaving a total bill of £218,670 for blazes in the first ten days of this month alone.

Since January, crews have battled 745 grass fires across Gwent at a cost of £2.4 million, although this is much less than the 3,666 grass fires they dealt with in the region between January and May 2010.

Fire chiefs are now warning not only of the financial costs of grass fires but also of their devastating environmental impact.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s head of risk reduction, Martin Henderson, said: “The financial cost of deliberate grass fires is just one issue. The real costs are less tangible.

“These include the destruction of the very fabric of our heartland, the destruction of eco systems that don’t recover so easily and the destruction of wildlife and the greenery of Wales.”

Chairman of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service ,Cllr Anthony Ernest, also highlighted the lives being put at risk, because response times to other emergencies are delayed while crews are stuck dealing with mountain fires.

Both men called on the public to say “enough is enough” by reporting those responsible for the fires and encouraged land owners who want to burn open land to contact the fire service for safety advice .

Cllr Ernest added: “Anyone thinking about deliberately setting fire to the mountainside needs to realise that we will pull out all the stops to ensure that they are caught and could face prosecution.”

Anyone who has information about people deliberately starting grass fires is asked to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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