Take care warning on Norwich fires

Peter WalshPlaying with fire can wreck lives - that is the message which has been issued to youngsters today as the warmer weather sets in.Peter Walsh

Playing with fire can wreck lives - that is the message which has been issued to youngsters today as the warmer weather sets in.

The rise in temperature which normally accompanies the spring and summer months traditionally sparks a rise in the number of grass and woodland-related fires Norfolk's Fire and Rescue Service tackle.

And many of the fires in wooded areas, like city beauty spot Mousehold Heath, are the result of arsonists deliberately setting light to the tinder-dry undergrowth - putting the lives of others at risk.

Earlier this month the Evening News reported how fire crews have been called to the woods off Woodside Road, Norwich, at least seven times in just over two weeks after vandals set light to trees and bushes.

But today county fire chiefs have issued a warning to anyone intent on deliberately setting fire to grassy areas or shrubland this summer.

Richard Herrell, group manager at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: 'This behaviour might seem like a prank or a laugh to those involved but believe me, fire has a habit of getting out of control.

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'I would strongly condemn deliberate fire setting in any form and we will work closely with the local Safer Neighbourhood Team to deal with this issue.'

Mr Herrell added: 'It's the time of year, especially with such good weather as we are enjoying at the moment, people start to spend more time outdoors. Our message is simple; we live in a beautiful, scenic county which is there to be enjoyed, especially in the sunny weather, but please follow our advice which will help you stay safe.'

Make sure you dispose of matches and cigarette ends carefully and safely.

Don't light fires or barbecues in places such as Mousehold Heath

Don't have a bonfire of any size during the extreme weather. This is particularly important in rural areas.

Report fires immediately by calling 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service even for a small fire, it can very soon become a big fire and get out of control.

Natasha Hewett, 15, a pupil at Sprowston High School, who lives near to the woods off off Woodside Road with her mother Lisa, 41, father Nick, 43, and brother Connor, alerted the fire service to a number of the incidents there.

She said: 'I would like to thank Sprowston fire crew for attending these fires within minutes. They've been called out several times to put out the fires lit deliberately. This time could be used on saving someone else's life.

'We're getting fed up and they're endangering lives. I think now they've done in there where are they going to go next? Other people's garages or fences? We're just waiting - it's going to happen again.'

Has your life been endangered by arsonists? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk