Scores of deliberate grass fires started in the valleys on the weekend

Scores of deliberate grass fires started in the valleys on the weekend

27 March 2017

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UK —  Fire crews attended more than 70 grass fires in the space of 48 hours which could have “cost people’s lives”.

While thousands of people across Wales made the most of the glorious weather to go out and enjoy Wales, others took advantage of the dry weather by starting fires.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service ( SWFRS ) recorded 73 fires during the period, with one spreading to the size of more than 160 rugby pitches.

SWFRS group manager Vaughan Jenkins said they received 480 calls in total from 4pm on Saturday to 4pm on Sunday, with more than 400 relating to fires.

Group manager Jenkins added that they received 89 calls to one incident which is “a massive strain” on their resources.

SWFRS Group manager Jenkins said: “One of the biggest issues is the drain it puts on our resources. If someone has a house fire or if there is a road traffic collision, then it will mean a delay in our response time.

“We have got a lot of education at the moment to reduce them but that still needs to get through.

“I’d say to those who lit the fire, or knew who did, to think about all of the consequences of what you’re doing.

“It’s destroying the landscape and the wildlife – and it could cost people’s lives because of the delays it causes.”

SWFRS cannot yet confirm how many of the 36 fires were lit on purpose, but group manager Jenkins said the “majority” were set deliberately.

Crews were forced to withdraw from one incident in Treorchy which had spread to around 166 hectares, roughly the size of 160 international rugby pitches, after high winds made it too dangerous.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 9.55pm on Saturday, and tackled the blaze throughout the night.

The crews were forced to leave the scene and the fire burnt itself out.

One inferno in the Rhondda which came dangerously close to houses was deliberately set, according to the fire service.

Crews were called to the scene on Penrhys at 5.20pm, where around 10 hectares were “well alight”.

A SWFRS spokeswoman said the fire was deliberate and police officers will be patrolling the area.

A message sent by crews at around 6.30pm said they were being hampered by high winds and the left flank of the fire was approaching houses.

The incident will now be passed to the fire crime department who will work with South Wales Police.

SWFRS said the fire did not cause any damage to property.

Another blaze in Tonypandy which covered 50 hectares was also set on purpose, according to the fire service.

Fire crews were called to the “well alight” grass fire in Tonypandy at 6.49pm, with crews creating a fire break to stop the spread of the fire which was near the Tonypandy Community College.

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