STAFFORDSHIRE firefighters say they are furious at arsonists putting lives at risk, after battling a blaze in a field of straw next to a housing estate.
More than 30 firefighters tackled the blaze at a field off Sycamore Green in West Chadsmoor, Cannock, which they say was started deliberately - and could have had “devastating” consequences.
Crews from Cannock, Brewood, Stafford, Rugeley and Lichfield were called out to the scene.
They arrived at the field at 2.27pm on Tuesday July 22 to find a 300 square metre area of straw well alight.
They used hose reel jets and beaters to put the fire out and were at the scene until well into the evening.
Station Manager Neil Burton said: “It is shocking that some people are prepared to put the lives of firefighters and of members of the public at risk in such a careless and nonchalant manner.
“This fire was lit deliberately and would have had far more devastating consequences if it was not for the quick action of the crews.
“The field, which was very dry due to the warm weather we have had recently, was extremely flammable and it didn’t take long for the fire to spread.
“What made the situation even more dangerous was the fact that it was located next to a residential estate. Luckily, the firefighters used a specialist off-road vehicle and were able to bring the blaze under control fairly quickly considering the circumstances.”
He added: “I cannot stress strongly enough how serious this type of incident can be. It puts innocent lives at risk, is a threat to animals and can also have a long-lasting negative impact on the future of those responsible, affecting career prospects and even seeing people handed a hefty fine or jail sentence.”
The fire service launched its high profile Flames Aren’t Games campaign ahead of the school summer holiday.
The initiative is now in its fourth year and aims to tackle antisocial behaviour which has traditionally seen an increase during the six-week break
Since the hard-hitting scheme was rolled out, the number of small fires including grass and bin blazes has dropped significantly.
Crews dealt with 2,281 incidents of this nature in 2013 and 3,505 in 2011, when the project was initially rolled out. These two years are comparable due to similar weather conditions.
There were 433 in the east of the county, 1,413 in the north and 435 in the west last year. This compares to 712, 1,812 and 981 respectively in 2011.