POLICE are hunting an arsonist who sparked a trail of wheelie bin fires in a South Tyneside street.
Firefighters were called to Collingwood Street in South Shields to tackle seven bin blazes at 8.30pm on Friday.
Fire and police chiefs today joined forces to blast the arsonists who put people’s lives in danger.
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Ray Houghton said: “The act of setting wheelie bins and rubbish on fire is not just a bit of mischief, it is a criminal offence.
“People often underestimate the damage that can be caused. Rubbish burns at an alarming rate and the fire can spread extremely rapidly.
“Often the flames can set fire to a neighbouring fence or shed and this is when lives can be put at risk.
“Although these fires may appear small, their effects spread much further.
“Apart from the inconvenience to homeowners, who have to replace the bin, rubbish fires are also a drain on the fire service, tying up resources that could be needed for a life-saving emergency response.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton said: “Setting fire to these wheelie bins might have seemed like a prank to the person responsible, but the consequences could have been a lot more serious.
“Investigations into the fires are ongoing, and we would appeal to anyone with information to contact us.”
Householders are reminded to only put their wheelie bins out on the day of collection, and to bring it in as soon as possible.
Firefighters are also asking people not to overfill bins, leave loose rubbish around them, store them in close proximity to a building, allow bins or rubbish to block escape routes, and not to store rubbish by any windows or doors.