Arson attacks on the rise

Fire damage at Farington park
Fire damage at Farington park

Arson attacks are on the rise in South Ribble, the Guardian can reveal.

Figures from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service show a 14 per cent increase in blazes started deliberately in the borough in the last year, compared to the previous 12 months.

In 2011-12, there were 42 incidents, with vehicle fires being the biggest problem.

Statistics reveal that 17 vehicles were set alight between April 2011 and March this year; 13 incidents related to residential property, including businesses and private garages; eight were in houses or flats; three were outdoors, which includes bus stops and post boxes; and one was a rubbish fire which then caused the property to set alight.

The previous year, there were 37 cases of arson in the borough.

Spokesman for the Fire Service, Richard Edney, said: “There was a slight increase in the number of deliberate fires at the start of 2011/12 in South Ribble.

“However, community fire safety teams have been working hard with partner agencies to reduce the number of fires, and since then we have noticed a marked decrease.

“From the start of April 2012, there have only been six deliberate fires in South Ribble, the last of which was in June.”

Last month, the Guardian reported how Stephen Hicks, of Albert Road, Leyland, was jailed for more than four years after starting a string of fires across Lostock Hall.

He caused more than £5,000 of damage after getting drunk and arguing with his partner, and set fire to a bin, a fence and a number of cars in July last year.

A man has also pleaded guilty to arson after a house fire in Young Avenue, Leyland, in July this year.

Garreth Allen, 32, of Young Avenue, is to be sentenced for the offence later this month.

In April, allotment sheds were burnt to the ground on Leyland Road in Penwortham, and in February, a children’s new play area was targeted near Stanifield Lane in Farington. The refurbished play area in Farington Park was ready to open weeks later, but the burnt-out climbing frame had to be fenced off, and up to £30,000 of damage was caused before the fire service arrived.