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Fire officers warn arson is 'not a joke'

PUBLISHED: 10:55 18 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK fire-fighters today gave a stark warning to hooligans starting fires for a prank saying: "It is not a joke."

Their warning comes after three separate fires broke out simultaneously on Bixley Heath, behind homes in Dorchester Road.

SUFFOLK fire-fighters today gave a stark warning to hooligans starting fires for a prank saying: "It is not a joke."

Their warning comes after three separate fires broke out simultaneously on Bixley Heath, behind homes in Dorchester Road.

Crews tackled the flames, which spread rapidly across an acre of gorse and bushes. The fires are being treated as arson and police have been informed.

Assistant Divisional officer Karl Rolfe, of Princes Street fire station, warned those responsible for wasting resources saying.

"What if their family needed to be rescued from a house or cut from a car? It would mean we wouldn't be available because we would be dealing with this incident."

To reduce the risk of fires in warm, dry weather he urged people to think before acting and not to discard smoking materials, such as lit cigarettes.

Keith Salmon, 56, of Dorchester Road, telephoned the fire brigade when he saw smoke bellowing across the heathland just before 4 pm.

"I wasn't sure if it was a bonfire or what so I went over and had a look and saw the heather was alight. It was blowing towards the houses and I did begin to worry.

"If it was arson, it is irresponsible. Especially as being as dry as it has been and with the wind these fires can take hold very quickly."

Two crews from Colchester Road and two from Princes Street attended the blazes, along with a forward control vehicle from Felixstowe.

Beaters and hose reels were used to put the fires out. The blaze was under control at by 5 pm.

Ken Seager, deputy chief fire officer, said: "With the Easter break coming up there is an even higher risk of these fires with more people spending time outdoors. But people can do a lot to cut the risk by disposing of smoking materials more carefully, taking more care when cooking on a barbecue and taking rubbish to the dump rather than burning it on a bonfire. These can all help to lessen the chances of an uncontrolled fire."


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