ARSONISTS starting fires during the heatwave are putting lives at risk.
Firefighters dealt with 25 blazes in open areas across Warwickshire at the weekend and a number were started deliberately.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service arson reduction officer Rebecca Roberts said: “We have seen a sharp increase in the number of fires in the open in recent weeks, with a further 25 this weekend. With the extreme heat, the grass and woodland areas across the county are very dry meaning fires spread quickly.
“Unbelievably while a number of these fires have been accidental, some have been deliberately started.
“We work closely with schools and within communities to engage young people on the risks of fire setting. Shockingly we have received reports of adults deliberately starting fires also, which is even more surprising in light of the wide coverage and impact of the moorland fires. If you start a fire in parks or woodland areas it will spread very quickly.
“This means that you are not only endangering yourself by setting the fire, but more importantly, you are also risking the lives of our crews and the communities we serve.
“We are urging those starting fires to think before they act, the last thing we want is to have a major fire on our hands where lives are at risk, when it could so easily have been prevented. Equally we are sure that you don’t want a criminal record and potentially a prison sentence. Let’s put a stop to arson.”
The heatwave intensified this week with Warwickshire residents advised to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day.
The Met Office issued an amber warning – when temperatures are predicted to hit 30C (86F) during the day, and 15C (59F) at night for at least two consecutive days – which warned people in the county to try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.
The warning was put in place until Friday morning (July 27) after which temperatures are forecast to slowly drop.
NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) reminded people to stay safe during the hot weather and to follow the advice from the NHS Choices, keep an eye on the Met Office forecast and help by keeping an eye on vulnerable residents such as the elderly.
Advice ranges from drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, to shutting windows during the day to block out the heat and opening them at night when it was cooler. Visit www.nhs.uk/summerhealth for further advice.
As well as tackling blazes, firefighters in Warwickshire were also practicing their water rescue techniques at a time when people are tempted to swim in rivers and lakes to try and cool down, not being aware of the dangers that may lie beneath.