United Kingdom — FIRE chiefs are cracking down on arsonists after crews tackled more than 65 blazes across Sefton in just 12 days.
One of the fires took hold of 1,000sqft of Formbys iconic sand dunes, and crews from Formby, Bootle and Southport spent more than two and a half hours at the scene battling the flames.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Dr Phil Smith, from Formby Civic Society, says the extent of the damage to the areas wildlife is still to be determined.
He said: Ive been active on the coast for more than 44 years and this is the biggest fire I have ever seen.
The final result appears not to be too damaging as it was a quick and superficial burn. Shrubs have been singed but hopefully the plants should recover quite quickly once the weather becomes warmer and wetter.
We are concerned however for wildlife such as the sand lizards which rely on the plant life for cover and food. Two species of butterfly, the Grayling and the Dark Green Fritillary, are special to the area and it is likely that they have been killed.
From March 29 to April 9, Merseyside Fire and Rescue dealt with a total of 334 grass fires.
Of those incidents, 31 grass fires were attended by Bootle and Netherton Community Fire Station, 24 were attended by Crosby Fire Station, nine were attended by Formby Fire Station and four were attended by crews from Southport Fire Station.
Hot spot areas are now being targeted by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services prevention team and partners.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue area manager, Myles Platt, said: Firefighters have been called out to a number of accidental and deliberate grass fires. Deliberately starting fires on grassland and open spaces is arson and offenders will be prosecuted.
If a fire appliance has to attend a grass fire that has been started deliberately it may delay the response to another emergency.
Fires started on grassland near motorways and busy roads can cause smoke to drift across roads, creating a hazard for drivers. Some accidental fires can be avoided by following the simple safety measures we have highlighted.
We want people to enjoy the parks and open spaces in Merseyside and to be as safe as possible from fire.
Formby councillor Nina Killen said: The fires on Albert Road must have been terrifying for the residents and I know they felt enormous gratitude towards the fire crews who did a great job bringing the fires under control.
We don’t know the cause of this fire but others in the borough were started deliberately and it is a worry that people can be so irresponsible. Arson is a very serious offence and anyone starting fires is taking an enormous risk with their life and the lives of others.