ARSONISTS who set fire to grass are being targeted by Staffordshire firefighters amid fears they are putting lives at risk and wrecking the countryside.
The fire and rescue service has been called out to 63 grass fires across the county since launching its Flames Aren’t Games campaign last week.
Cannock Chase has been among the beauty spots targeted by the fire-starters.
Head of risk reduction Glynn Luznyj said a grass fire could quickly destroy an entire ecosystem which could then take years to recover.
He said: “Animals are also at risk, both wild and livestock, which makes the firefighters’ job even more difficult. If there is a grass fire near a field full of cows, for example, we have to make sure the cows are moved to a safe place which can be a very dangerous task as they are large animals which are easily spooked.
“Grass fires quickly burn down underground and can continue to burn for a very long time which means firefighting resources have to keep a constant presence to monitor underground hotspots. In previous years we’ve been in attendance at the same grass fire for over a week because it has spread so deep underground.
“Fire can completely kill off vast grassy areas and destroy trees which are hundreds of years old.
“That area isn’t likely to ever recover from the effects of the fire and the aftermath is a large blackened area which ruins the surrounding countryside.” Mr Luznyj said people who started such fires needed to consider that if firefighters were tied up for hours dealing with a deliberate blaze they would not be able to attend genuine emergencies which could result in a delay in reaching someone trapped in a house fire or car crash.