ARSONISTS who are suspected of setting bales of hay on fire put lives at risk with their reckless action, say emergency service officials.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to a number of fires in fields between Netpark, the digital business park at Sedgefield, and the village of Fishburn.

At around 7.45pm on Monday night, crews from Sedgefield Fire Station attended the scene where a number of hay bales were alight over three separate fields and spent around an hour extinguishing the blazes.

Crew manager Andrew Wells said: “When we arrived it was clear there were at least eight separate bales well alight over a large area.

"We believe the fires may have been started deliberately, tying up our crew for over an hour.

"This meant we weren’t available for more serious incidents, potentially putting lives at risk.”

Anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to call the anonymous reporting line FireStoppers on 0800-1695558 or report online.