DANGEROUS arsonists have been accused of putting lives at risk with a "devastating" fire.

An appeal for information has been launched after the recycling bank in Cleator Moor was set alight.

The paper bank, located in the car park of the Co-op and belonging to Copeland Borough Council, was targeted on Wednesday evening.

Recycling was set alight and damage to the cage will cost the council £1,000 to repair. Councillors and emergency services alike have condemned the actions of those responsible.

Resident and Parish councillor Michael Eldon said: “It’s happened a lot in the area in the past 12 months. It’s happening too often."

He said: “The recycling banks are there for everyone to use; they’re a welcome addition to the area because we all want to keep the green ethos going.”

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, said: “It is absolutely appalling that our recycling site would be targeted like this, and the impact is devastating.

“Setting deliberate fires is inherently dangerous and puts lives at risk. It is grossly unfair on our residents, who have diligently sorted their recycling and taken it to the site, only to have it destroyed.

“It also has a significant impact on our staff, who had to clean the site - they did a great job but were taken away unnecessarily from other duties – and the cost of repairing the bank must now come out of our stretched resources.”

Owen McCarney, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service manager for Allerdale and Copeland, said: “Arson can have a devastating effect on homes, businesses and communities.

"Deliberately-set fires are dangerous; they waste time and money, and keep our crews away from real emergencies. As well as potentially delaying attendance at a more serious incident, fire-setting can result in injury, property damage and environmental pollution.”

The council has installed a temporary paper recycling bank while the damage is repaired.

Throughout September the fire and rescue service responded to 341 emergencies, 118 of which were fires and 127 were false alarms.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, email 101@cumbria.police.uk, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.