CROWDS including balaclava-clad youths hurled “missiles” at firefighters as they attended some of the 70 call-outs to bonfires on Guy Fawkes Night.

Durham and Darlington’s assistant chief fire officer, Dominic Brown, condemned as “senseless” the attacks on Tuesday which saw glass bottles, metal springs and fireworks thrown at crews.

The Northern Echo:

SENSELESS ATTACKS: Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dominic Brown

The County Durham and Fire and Rescue Service control room received 145 calls and responded to 70 bonfires - at four of which, across Easington and Derwentside, they were attacked.

Mr Brown said: “It is unbelievable that our firefighters have been attacked and abused going about their jobs as they try to help their local community.

“Our firefighters think nothing of putting themselves in harm’s way every single day to protect other people, so to have groups of youths throw bottles, metal springs and fireworks at them is completely unacceptable.”

The service control room started seeing a rise in calls from about 4.30pm with the busiest areas across Easington and Derwentside.

Some of the bonfires which they attended were adequately supervised, well built and deemed safe while some were categorised as minor secondary fires.

Four of the call-outs - two at Seaham, one at West Rainton and the other at Dipton - resulted in firefighters having “missiles” thrown at them while some were verbally abused.

Crews believe the vast majority of the crowds were young people and teenagers while some were wearing balaclavas.

A spokesperson for the fire service said Durham Police were called to the attack in Dipton.

Mr Brown added: “Bonfire night is always a busy period for us and the vast majority of our community enjoy it responsibly and lawfully, many at professionally organised events.

"But we will not tolerate these few mindless individuals whose actions not only put our crews at risk but also the wider community by tying up fire, police and ambulance crews when they should be at genuine emergencies.

"We will be working closely with Durham Constabulary to identify those responsible.”