VANDALS have been labelled heartless, disrespectful and disgusting after torching trees surrounding gravestones at Carlisle cemetery.

Firefighters were called to the site, which borders Richardson Street and Dalston Road, at 5.15pm on Monday.

The Carlisle West crew found trees had been set on fire next to several gravestones.

It is believed the fires were started deliberately - prompting an angry backlash from residents in the city.

Many took to the News & Star’s Facebook page to condemn those responsible.

Cheryl Blaylock said: “My family friends are buried and were cremated there. So disrespectful to burn such a sacred place.”

Lisa Mitchell added: “Absolutely no respect. This is going to cause so much hurt and pain for the families with loved ones in this cemetery.”

It is not the first such fire in the Denton Holme and Longsowerby in recent weeks.

Carlisle city councillors Lisa Brown and Ruth Alcroft, who represent Denton Holme and Morton South, have both expressed concerns about the issue.

Lisa said: “Unfortunately this is not the first fire to be started in Denton Holme recently. Myself and Ruth have been in touch with the police and local community to see what we can do to tackle it.

“If any residents are concerned about anti-social behaviour, I would urge them to come to myself or my council colleagues, or the police directly.”

Ruth added: “I am very concerned to hear reports of a fire being started in the cemetery. It is a special place for people across Carlisle and to see this happen is really upsetting.

“My thoughts are with those who have loved ones in the cemetery who will be especially concerned about this news.”

Sergeant Scott Adams, problem solver for the Carlisle Local Focus Hub, said they are working to tackle the anti-social behaviour, including youths starting fires.

“Work is ongoing all the time to educate teenagers and youngsters about the dangers of fire. We will continue this to try to get across to them what could happen if they start fires,” he said.

“We would also always appeal for information from the public on this issue. As much information as possible can help us target any offenders.”

He added that as well as causing damage and danger, these incidents are also a drain on the emergency services’ time - and could delay their response to life-threatening incidents.