REVEALED: Number of deliberate summer field fires confirmed as numbers TRIPLE in just two months
PUBLISHED: 09:49 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:55 04 September 2018
Suffolk firefighters tackled nearly three times as many field fires in just two months this summer than they did for the whole of 2017, it has emerged - with at least seven started deliberately.
Data published under Freedom of Information laws revealed that the two months of June and July this summer featured 43 field fires – nearly triple the 16 recorded for the whole of 2017.
Among those were at least seven which Suffolk Fire and Rescue recorded as being deliberate, and the cause of a further 11 not being known.
Firefighters have said the prolonged hot and dry spell had increased a number of types of fires, including those in fields, forests and other open spaces.
At the start of August, the service reported the number of field, crop, stubble and open fires combined had almost doubled.
Mark Hardingham, chief fire officer, said: “This was an extremely busy period for the service and dealing with these fires, which can sometimes be complex, calls for a large team effort.
“Our firefighters worked brilliantly during this time, often going from incident to incident across the county.”
He added: “In such conditions, discarded glass, smoking materials, barbecues and farm machinery can all become hazardous and cause fires.”
Mr Hardingham thanked and praised the efforts of crews, including on-call firefighters and their employers for their understanding.
The service said the demand on resources and crews meant they carried out regular welfare checks, including ensuring firefighters were hydrated and fed in the high temperatures.
The soaring number of incidents also impacted on police services, who helped fire crews with road traffic control, evacuating homes and buildings and investigating incidents recorded as deliberate.
A force spokesman said: “We work with fire and rescue services in the region during all major incidents when required.
“Depending on the scale of the incident, we assist by helping with traffic control, evacuating homes and investigating any fires, which have been deemed to be deliberate by the fire service.
“Starting a fire deliberately is reckless and dealing with a large scale fire can impact all emergency services resources significantly.”