It’s that time of year again when parts of our county borough are left blackened and scarred by deliberate grass fires.
According to South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, between March 1 and March 29, 2021, crews have already attended 111 suspected deliberate grass fires in south Wales. Across the same period last year they attended 87 – an increase of 27.5%.
Recently, a grass fire threatened to engulf people’s gardens at Trem Penallta, Hengoed, on March 23. fire frews were called again to Hengoed the following evening to Lansbury Avenue.
Call outs such as these waste thousands of pounds of public money – do what is being done to tackle the problem?
Operation Dawns Glaw is made up of the three fire services covering Wales, the Welsh Government and other authorities such as Natural Resources Wales.
The “task force”, originally established in 2016, to tackle deliberate fires, also looks at reducing the number of accidental fires set in the countryside.
During 2020, fire and rescue services across Wales dealt with 2,253 grass fires. Whilst this was a slight increase on 2019, the number of accidental fires in 2020 had increased by 20%.
This increase has been partially blamed on last years lockdown when more people headed outdoors.
Mydrian Harries, Corporate Head of Prevention and Protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and Chair of Operation Dawns Glaw, said: “While accidents can happen, there are others within our communities who are deliberately setting fire to our countryside – not only is this a crime, for which they will be prosecuted, but it also places unnecessary pressure on front line services and puts our communities in harm’s way. I would encourage anyone with information relating to such crimes to call 101, or to report anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.”
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Practical measures also in place
A partnership between the fire service, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Natural Resources Wales and the Rudry Commoners Association was credited with stopping a major grass fire in May last year from doubling.
Firefighters cut ‘firebreaks’ into the landscape of Rudry Common to stop grass fires from spreading.
Speaking to Caerphilly Observer at the time, Draethen, Waterloo and Rudry Community Councillor Jayne Garland, who volunteers with the fire prevention work, said: “When the fire breaks are cut, people of the area can walk them to keep new growth down so that if another fire occurs the fire service have better access to it and the chances of it spreading are less.”
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