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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbrian firefighters going back to school to tackle wild fires

Firefighters will visit schoolchildren to warn them about the dangers of deliberately starting blazes after tackling a spate of wild fires across west Cumbria.

Siddick Ponds photo
Part of Siddick Ponds was badly damaged. Photo: Carrie Brogden

During the Easter holidays fire crews have been called out to more than 50 grass, gorse and rubbish fires with the majority of them believed to have been started by youngsters during the school holidays.

Kevin Johnston, station manager at Whitehaven, Egremont, Frizington and Seascale, said that the fire service attended schools on a regular basis to speak to youngsters.

He said that due to the amount of fires that have recently been started, it was time to go back to the schools for a refresher.

As well as endangering their own lives, Mr Johnston stressed that those starting the fires were also putting other peoples’ lives at risk.

“If fire crews are attending these nuisance anti-social fires it does affect the service we deliver,” said Mr Johnston.

“In road traffic collisions and property fires, minutes do make a difference in the chances of survival for people involved.”

Siddick Ponds Nature Reserve was one of the worst places hit when flames as high as 8ft tore across the treasured grounds on Tuesday night, wiping out reed beds and animals’ habitats. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed, but it will take between 18 months and two years to get the nature reserve back to how it was.

Allerdale council, which owns the reserve, is currently reviewing security at the site and a £500 reward has been put up by an anonymous donor for information leading to an arrest as police hunt the culprits.

Meanwhile, signs have been put up on the site warning people not to walk over scorched reed beds as they could be dangerous.

A spokeswoman for Allerdale council said that people may think that the ground was solid as the reeds had burned away.

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