CREWS from Staffordshire Fire Rescue Service spent over 24 hours at the scene of a large fire near Burntwood which was started deliberately.
Firefighters were called to reports of a fire on Gentleshaw Common at around 2.20pm on Sunday May 13.
Throughout the afternoon several fire appliances from Chase Terrace, Rugeley, Lichfield, Abbots Bromley, Barton-under-Needwood, Stone, Cannock, Abbots Bromley and Penkridge attended the incident, along with three special appliances; a control unit, a water carrier from Cheadle and a specialist wildfire Unimog unit from Cannock.
Crews used multiple hose reel jets, water backpacks, beaters and the Unimog to apply water to the fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately. It was brought under control by around 5.30pm and was scaled back to two appliances, the water carrier and Unimog. Firefighters continued to monitor the area for hotspots throughout the night and they remained at the incident until around 2.30pm today (Monday).
Group Manager Toby Wilson said: “It is very disappointing that we have seen yet another fire on this beautiful common. We had to use a significant number of units in order to tackle this deliberate blaze and these crews might have been needed elsewhere to save lives.
“I would urge people to be aware of just how easily and quickly a fire can spread on common land at this time of year when the vegetation is dry. It only takes one stray spark from a barbeque or a cigarette to cause complete devastation to the landscape.
“It appears the fire was started deliberately which is very concerning; if you saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area then please report it to the police. If you witness any suspicious behaviour while out and about please report it to police immediately.
“Thank you to our colleagues from Staffordshire Police who assisted with the road closure while we tackled this fire.
“This is why each year we run our Flames Aren’t Games campaign, to try to highlight the dangers of setting fires. Any fire has the risk of hurting someone but these grass fires are especially dangerous as they spread very quickly and take considerable time to get under control, particularly in hot dry weather like we have seen over the weekend.
“We’d urge parents to explain to their children just how dangerous it is to set fires. Anyone starting fires deliberately could receive a £5,000 fine or a prison sentence.”
For more information on the campaign visit: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/your-safety/campaigns/flames-arent-games/