A leading firefighter has slammed arsonists who carried out a spate of attacks in a town.

David McDowell, watch manager for Egremont, has spoken out after a bench in the town’s historic castle was torched last weekend.

This follows on from several blazes at the town’s recycling banks, which then had to be removed for safety reasons.

Mr McDowell said that the irresponsible actions could harm the arsonists themselves or tie up appliances which need to attend emergencies elsewhere.

He said: “The sad thing about it is the impact it will have on the people of Egremont. Incidents like this tie up emergency appliances which could be needed elsewhere. The message from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is to please stop.”

Egremont councillor Mike McVeigh was also irate about the incident.

He said: “There’s no question this was deliberate.

“I think it’s young people, and their parents have got to be asking what time they are coming home, and if their clothes smell of petrol.

“When I heard what had happened in the castle I was quite shocked.

“They’ve got to realise it is arson and that is a very serious issue.”

Mr McDowell said the fire had been deliberately started by an accelerant.

He added: “The bench is totally destroyed and this will impact people who go there.

“It’s very frustrating especially when we are responding to an incident and don’t know what it’s going to be and then we turn up and see this stupidity.

“The message we need to drive home is the impact this will have, tying up the appliance which could get another call and if they can’t attend, it will impact another station as they’ll have to respond to that incident.”

He said he could not 100 per cent confirm if the arson attacks were linked, but said it was a coincidence.

Residents in the town have spoken of their disgust.

Amber Graham, who often takes her two young children to the castle grounds, said she was appalled.

“Some people have no respect at all,” she said. “I can’t believe that somebody would do this. There’s always gangs of teenagers hanging around in the castle, causing a nuisance.”

Copeland Council was forced to move the recycling bins from the car park at Beck Green