THE emergency services have issued a plea to arsonists to stop putting lives at risk by deliberately starting grass fires.

Over the past few weeks, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service has seen a spate of grass fires, especially in the Newton Aycliffe, Darlington and Durham areas.

Last month, firefighters were called out to ten such incidents in Darlington within just a few days.

County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service footage of one of the grass fires

The brigade said it is working closely with Durham police, Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council to tackle the concerning rise in deliberate fires.

The authorities will hold awareness events in those communities affected and have urged parents to tell their children how dangerous starting a grass fire could be.

District Manager for Darlington, Dave Glendenning, said: “This rise over the past few weeks is particularly concerning for the residents in these areas.

"Only a couple of weeks ago, we dealt with ten deliberate fires in a matter of days, just in Darlington, meaning our fire crews were potentially unavailable for life risk incidents.

“Ourselves and our colleagues in the police and local councils are committed bringing an end to this trend, we are holding events in the community to talk to young people about the risks of deliberate fire setting.

"I would like to encourage parents and carers to talk to their children to make them understand just how damaging these fires can be and by taking part in this activity, they are involving themselves in criminal activity.”

Anyone with information regarding deliberate fires should call FireStoppers on 0800-1695558.