Firebugs torch four cars in three days

Fire brigade bosses say arsonists have wasted valuable public resources by going on a wrecking spree
Fire brigade bosses say arsonists have wasted valuable public resources by going on a wrecking spree

Fire chiefs have issued a warning about the dangers of setting cars on fire following a spate of incidents in the borough.

Crews from across Wigan have been called to four incidents in the past week - each of which presented a danger to the public as well as wasting a significant amount of time for the fire crew.

One incident, residents reported seeing a car towing a van up a street in Leigh before tyres were placed on the passenger seat of the van and set on fire.

Firefighters were called to Melrose Avenue at around 8pm on Tuesday night and spent around an hour at 
the scene extinguishing the blaze.

Later that night, at around 11.45pm, the same crew were called to a car fire on Lune Street in Tyldesley. They found a Mercedes, which had been parked up on the street, on fire.

Residents told the crew they had seen a group of youths running away from the scene.

These incidents followed on from two car fires, both believed to have been started deliberately, were reported in the Platt Bridge area.

A fire crew from Hindley were called to a car park off Platt Street in Platt Bridge at 12.52pm on Monday, after a car had been set alight.

On Sunday, the same crew were called to land off Millers Lane, Platt Bridge, at around 2.30pm, where a Seat car had been set alight. The crew suspected it may have been stolen before the blaze.

Crew manager Craig Cubbins attended both incidents.

He said: “It looked like the car had been abandoned and someone had come along and set fire to it.

“It is environmentally very bad and it tied us up for about 30 minutes when we could have been needed elsewhere.

“It is also very dangerous, especially with it being the summer holidays and it having happened in the middle of the day when there might have been children around.

“It is very irresponsible. It has cost a cash strapped council money to come and clear it up and in the meantime there is glass all over the ground, which is also dangerous.”

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s website contains advice on how the community can help prevent car fires.

It states that many stolen vehicles are set on fire and this can be avoided by helping prevent your car from being stolen by removing the keys and locking it at all times, by using an anti-theft device and not leaving property in your vehicle.

Abandoned vehicles should be reported to the police or the local authority.

Station manager Wayne Van Hecke said: “We want to remind people to be wary of where they leave their vehicles in relation to their dwellings, so that if they become a target of arson the spread of fire to their home is less likely.

“Deliberate fires such as these see our resources being engaged, when they could otherwise be needed at more serious incidents elsewhere. Valuable resources can become tied up in these incidents, so we urge people to consider this.

“If you have any information on deliberate fires please call Greater Manchester Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

The GMFRS website also states that arson is the largest single cause of major fire in the Greater Manchester - costing every person in the county around £18 a year.

Assistant County Fire Officer, Peter O’Reilly, said: “Arson is the largest single cause of major fires in Greater Manchester.

“Many of them start as small fires lit as a game or bit of fun, but there is nothing amusing about it.

“The main culprits are young males aged between 11 and 18 years but sometimes as young as seven years old. We want to teach them that deliberately starting fires has serious consequences.”

Information on all four incidents have been passed to the police.