Grassfire arsonists put lives at risk

A SUFFOLK fire officer has today branded arsonists as irresponsible and warned that lives are being put at risk following a spate of deliberate grass fires.

A SUFFOLK fire officer has today branded arsonists as irresponsible and warned that lives are being put at risk following a spate of deliberate grass fires.

Fire crews were called out three times yesterday to tackle grass and undergrowth fires in Landseer Park - one of them destroying an acre of land.

The blazes have exacerbated stretched resources at fire stations around the county as crews are already dealing with large numbers of grass fires caused by soaring temperatures and tinder dry conditions through a lack of rain.

Assistant Divisional Officer Ian Bowell, based at the Princes Street station said: “People who deliberately start fires at this time of year when the ground is so dry are really acting very irresponsibly.

“It is putting lives in danger.”

He said the fires have the potential to spread to homes and gardens as on Martlesham Heath on Friday when a heath fire got perilously close to homes, destroying one garden.

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ADO Bowell added: “Animals can be killed if they get in the way.

“Also we are finding because of the weather conditions and the amount of work crews are doing we are having fire fighters suffering from heat exhaustion.”

Also during the weekend three high powered sports cars were destroyed when they were set alight on the Old Felixstowe Road at Levington at around 4.30am yesterday.

A police spokeswoman said the cars, which looked like they had been in a collision on the road, were all believed to have been stolen. The cars involved were an MG Convertible, a Jaguar and a Mercedes.

Later in the day crews were called to the first of many fires in Landseer Park. The first call was at around 1.30pm to reports that a tree stump was on fire. Minutes later they were called back again to the park to an undergrowth fire.

At around 4.30pm three fire engines were sent to the park following reports that more than an acre of grassland was set alight.

A few hours later at 9.45pm, a blaze once more broke out in undergrowth at the park.

Crews were also called out at around 10pm on Friday night to the park following reports that a small area of undergrowth was on fire.

Elsewhere in Suffolk crews were kept busy with a number of grass fires, mainly in the north and west of the county. The biggest was in Mildenhall yesterday when five acres of land was ablaze at the air base.

Sunday also saw four crews called out at 1.45pm to a crop fire at a farm in Blundeston, with fire crews using beaters to help put the fire out by about 2.50pm.

And in the early hours of Sunday morning, at about 12.40am, firefighters were called out when arsonists are believed to have set fire to a Post Office canopy in London Road, Ipswich. Minutes later a wheelie bin was set alight in nearby Burlington Road.

n. Have you been affected by any of the fires? Contact The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788.

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