Angus malicious fires rocket by 50 per cent

The number of deliberately set fires in Angus has increased by more than 50% in the past year, a new report shows.

The burnt out shell of Wellbrae Primary School in Forfar

The burnt out shell of Wellbrae Primary School in Forfar

There were 33 deliberate fires set in the county between July and September compared with 22 in the same quarter last year.

According to the latest quarterly report for Angus by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service the malicious blazes included fires set to three vehicles, a garden shed and a tenement.

There were 28 deliberate fires set outdoors to grassland, crops, shrubs and refuse.

Half of the deliberate outdoor fires took place in the Montrose area which has been condemned by local councillor David May.

He said: “I am surprised at this level in Montrose. Setting deliberate fires is not only dangerous to the area in which the blaze is but it also means the fire service has to be called out.

“It may mean that there is a more urgent fire that they are not able to attend as quickly as they wish.

“It could cause massive problems and even threaten buildings and life.”

The huge consequences of deliberate fires was recently underlined by the blaze at the former Wellbrae Primary School building in Forfar, which led to an operation involving 50 firefighters.

The report highlights the work that the fire service is doing to educate young people about the dangers of setting fires.

It states: “We continue to work very hard, along with our partners, to build relationships with young people in the community and educate them on the consequences of anti-social behaviour.

“During the second quarter of 2016/17, we worked with Angus Council and Police Scotland on the Friday Night Project at Lochside Leisure Centre, and co-delivered Safe Angus, which targeted 490 primary seven pupils from across the Angus area.

“As a result of the excellent partnership work undertaken within the Angus area, we have seen a steady reduction in deliberate secondary fires over the past five years.”

Mr May praised the efforts being made by the emergency services and also called on parents to play a part in tackling the issue.

He added: “I can’t recall from previous reports there being this scale of problems in the Montrose area.

“I appreciate the efforts the police and fire service are working hard to establish who is setting these fires also to educate young people.

“Parents should also take cognisance of where their youngsters are.”

The reports shows that accidental dwelling fires also increased by 50%, from 20 to 30 over the same period.

There were 10 non domestic property fires and 50 other times the fire service responded to other incidents such as road traffic collisions and flooding.

The level of false alarms continues to be an issue in Angus, with just under 300 calls in the three month period.

The report added: “We are working in partnership with the duty holders of these premises, to tackle unwanted fire alarm signals reduction and reduce the impact these have on Scottish Fire and Rescue Service resources.”