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Kent's firefighters call for extra vigilance

Kent’s firefighters call for extra vigilance

1 June 2017

Kent Fire and Rescue Service is alerting people who have outdoor fires to think twice about starting one, or at the very least to be extra careful and keep watch of the fire. The call comes after a series of incidents have seen a worrying rise in daily 999 calls across the county.

Between 1 April and 31 May 2017 firefighters have responded to 643 fires versus 357 for the same period last year, involving unattended bonfires, undergrowth, trees, hedges and vegetation fires, also dumped rubbish which had been set alight. In the last week alone, crews have attended over 60 of these types of fires. Firefighters fear it is only a matter of time before an incident causes major damage, possibly injury.

Head of Community Safety, Colin King, said: “It’s important for people to realise that outdoor fires can be unpredictable. They behave differently depending on the weather and the recent warm dry spell poses a greater risk of fires spreading quickly."

Since the early hours of yesterday morning (31 May) fire crews have responded to 15 incidents including:

Thursday, 1 June

  • Firefighters used beaters to put out a grass fire in Warden Bay, Leysdown-on-Sea at 3.15pm

  • Two fire engines attended a fire on Dartford Heath at noon. Fire crews used hose reels to extinguish a blaze involving around 40 square meters of heathland

  • A bin fire in Nags Head Lane, Rochester at 1.41am was thought to have been started by a cigarette butt that hadn’t been completely stubbed out before disposal

Wednesday, 31 May 

  • Rubbish was deliberately set alight in Vauxhall Avenue, Canterbury at 10.30pm

  • A bin fire in Westgate Bay Avenue, Westgate on Sea at 8.18pm

  • Refuse was set alight in an alleyway in Havengore Avenue, Gravesend at 7.30pm

  • A wheelie bin fire in Station Road, Ashford around 6pm

  • Woodland was set alight in White Lane, Hawkhurst and was believed to have been started by youths at around 6pm

  • A tree stump was set alight in Goddards Green, Benenden just before 6pm

  • A sofa was deliberately set alight in Shelduck Close, Allhallows at 5.44pm

  • In Ramsgate at Western Undercliff, a rubbish bin was removed from the railings and deliberately set alight on the beach 

  • Youths were believed to be responsible for starting a fire in woods in Woolley Road, Maidstone shortly after 2.30pm 

  • A garden rubbish fire in Stoke Road, Hoo at 11.44am

  • Youths were again thought to be responsible for starting a small fire in a park in Beechings Way, Gillingham around 11.30am

  • A small amount of woodland was alight in Tudely Woods, Half Moon Lane just before 9.30am

Colin added: “Apart from being a waste of time and money, these fires although relatively small, tie up fire engines and crews. They could delay us getting to a more serious incident such as a house fire, car crash or being able to respond to a medical emergency, where lives may be in danger and someone needs the help of our firefighters in a real emergency. 

“Rather than setting fire to your rubbish, take it to the local tip or contact your local council for advice on how to dispose of it. There’s no need to burn it or dump it, where it can act as a potential fire hazard and be targeted by arsonists.” 

Arson (deliberately starting fires) is a serious problem. If you're responsible for a child, you are legally responsible for any illegal actions carried out by that child. So if you think your child may be lighting fires deliberately, you must do something about it. Contact KFRS’ Firesetters team on 01622 692 121, or email for advice on how to deal with the problem 

You can also report any information about illegal fire setting activities and those responsible (anonymously) to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or phone Kent. 

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