Shocking figures for grass fires

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WIGAN’S top fire chief has blasted arsonists who deliberately start grass fires - astounding figures show a very high amount of incidents within the first week of April alone.

Much of that has been put down to the dry weather but all four of the Wigan-based crews have been stretched to their limit - the latest incident on Tuesday behind homes in Morville Drive, Hawkley Hall (pictured).

In total, there have been 142 fires across the borough in the first eight days of the month. When compared to 800 throughout the whole of the last year, it puts into context how stretched the crews have been.

While not all grass fires have been deliberately started, it’s believed that a very high percentage have and as a result, officers will visit local schools in a bid to cut down on the number of incidents.

Wigan borough commander Steve Sheridan has today vowed to do everything possible to cut down on the amount of grass fires, with each call-out costing hundreds of pounds as well as possibly preventing firefighters from other, more urgent, matters.

He said: “It is a massive issue at the moment.

“We have had endured eight ‘bonfire nights’ at the start of April, it’s a very busy period across the whole region.

“Crews will be going into schools to talk to Key Stage Two pupils and we have officers travelling to high schools to talk to students there.

“We also have an agreement with Wigan and Leigh homes to keep all waste outside of properties to an absolute minimum.

Mr Sheridan is also urging parents to be vigilant over what their children are doing when they’re out.

He added: “We’re urging parents to take notice and if they’re children are coming in at night smelling smoke, to question it.

“We need people to ensure that grass is cut low. It isn’t the local authority because many of the fires are being started on private property.

Fortunately, there have been no injuries as a result of any of the fires this month and all 142 have been prevented before they grown any further.

The large number of fires have, however, meant that crews are stretched and with the summer approaching and the possibility of much more dry weather, it is hoped that the problem can be appropriately addressed and the dangers of grass fires raised sooner rather than later.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have a number which the public can ring for advice and to book a home safety check. To book a safety assessment call 0800 555 815.