Arson bill in county soars

ARSON in Suffolk has soared in the last year - costing taxpayers well over £100,000 and putting lives at risk.New figures show that almost 1,500 fires were deliberately started in the county during 2006/07, a leap of 8 per cent on the previous year.

ARSON in Suffolk has soared in the last year - costing taxpayers well over £100,000 and putting lives at risk.

New figures show that almost 1,500 fires were deliberately started in the county during 2006/07, a leap of 8 per cent on the previous year.

Most of the blazes involved grass, heath land, cars and rubbish bins but fire bosses say all of these directed resources away from real emergencies and could have cost lives.

Figures released by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service show 1,444 fires were started deliberately during 2006/07 compared to 1,338 in 2005/06.

John Wilcock, divisional officer and western area group manager, said: “It's very alarming; particularly in respect of the amount of work we are putting into this.

“It's expensive every time a fire engine turns out of a station.

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“But if you go to a fire three miles out of the town which is started deliberately and a more serious fire occurs in the town centre then someone's life could be at risk.”

And he sent out a stark warning that arsonists will be caught and could end up in prison.

The majority of the suspicious fires in the county last year occurred in Ipswich (627), followed by Waveney (222), Bury St Edmunds (178), Babergh (130), Mid-Suffolk (106), Forest Heath (93) and Suffolk Coastal (88).

Most of the suspicious fires did not turn out to be serious.

But a worrying trend has emerged which has seen suspects lighting wheelie bins next to windows or buildings, which could result in a major blaze, said Mr Wilcock.

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