Spate of arson attacks sparks fire warning

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A SPATE of arson attacks in Hastings Country Park has led to a call from the fire service for the public to be vigilant, especially in light of recent dry weather.

In the space of a week there have been four gorse fires in Tackleway and at North’s Seat off Fairlight Road, believed to have been started deliberately.

Watch commander Richard Beale, from The Ridge fire station, said: “Where the undergrowth is so dry, if it does catch fire and the wind picks up, it spreads quickly.

“If members of the public do spot anything, they shouldn’t hesitate to call us out.

“Give us as much information as to the exact location as possible, and keep the phone used to call us on to hand.”

Last Wednesday (August 14) at around 4pm, firefighters extinguished a 10 square metre patch of gorse in Tackleway, then just an hour later, crews were called to North’s Seat as fire swept across a large area spanning 100 square metres.

It took firefighters around four hours to bring the blaze under control, using three pumps and a 4x4 Land Rover.

The following morning, firefighters returned to North’s Seat to damp down hot spots, but while they were at work, someone set fire to an area of gorse behind them, which could have put the crew in serious danger, Mr Beale said.

Last Friday and Saturday (August 16 and 17), more damping down was done at North’s Seat, then on Monday (August 19), another small fire in Tackleway, was reported to the emergency services by a passerby around midday.

Station Commander Paul Way said: “We are fortunate to have such areas of outstanding natural beauty on our doorstep and it is vital that we protect them. Often incidents are accidental and it is not uncommon for the number to increase in good weather when more people will visit these areas.

“Unfortunately though, the majority of the incidents attended recently are believed to have been deliberately set and due to the recent dry weather, combined with wind conditions; have stretched local fire crews.”

Anyone with information about arson is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.