Communities endangered after 20 grass fires in Dalmellington and Bellsbank

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Local senior officer issues appeal as incidents risk delaying firefighters getting to emergencies, could spread to threaten homes or businesses and damage both the environment and wildlife habitat.

SFRS name line on appliance

Deliberately starting fires is a serious crime that risks lives and no-one should ever accept it happening in their community.

The area’s Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) team issued the clear message after firefighters had to respond to 20 grass fires in Dalmellington and Bellsbank last weekend.

While dealing with these needless incidents local crews would have been unavailable to respond to an emergency, meaning firefighters would have had to be sent from outside the area if a house fire or serious road traffic collision happened.

Rescuers being delayed in getting to someone in imminent danger could result in tragedy and the potential consequences of deliberate fires make even those involving grass serious crimes.

Area Manager Jim Scott, the local senior officer for Ayrshire, said: “People who set fires have no idea how they will develop or who will be affected and everyone needs to understand this is not a minor issue.

“When someone is trapped in a burning building or in a vehicle that’s been involved in a crash every moment counts, therefore it’s imperative our firefighters are available to deal with these serious incidents should they arise.

“Those responsible for setting fires need to ask themselves how they would feel if someone was killed or injured because firefighters were tied-up at a needless incident caused by their reckless, criminal actions.”

On Friday 18 March SFRS crews were called to extinguish three grass fires in the area.

They had to respond to 11 more on Saturday and a further six on Sunday, taking the total for the three days to 20.

As well as risking delays, these incidents also endanger people in the vicinity, as the fires could spread to threaten homes or businesses and there is also the damage to the environment and wildlife habitat caused by these unnecessary incidents

In order to protect the public SFRS officers have contacted households in the area urging residents to alert the police if they know of anyone involved in setting fires.

Area Manager Scott added: “We know on some occasions young people are often involved in setting fires so our crews visit schools to raise awareness that doing so is never harmless fun.

“We need the public to help that message get through. It’s important people make sure their kids understand how serious an issue this is.”

Anyone with information on people involved in setting fires should call Police Scotland on 101.

Alternatively, information can be given anonymously via Crimestoppers Scotland by calling 0800 555 111.

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