YOUNG people who have been starting grass fires for fun in South Tyneside are putting the lives of others at risk, firefighters have warned.
Crews in South Shields have hit out at the fire starters who set more than 15 blazes on grasslands around the borough last week.
The areas hit include Temple Park, Chuter Ede in Biddick Hall, Eye-mouth Court in Simonside, Landseer Gardens, Whiteleas, Fossway in West Harton and Boldon Colliery.
On Thursday, crews dealt with seven fires and had to tackle another four on Friday.
Now, fire chiefs are calling on parents to help put a stop to the craze, before someone is seriously hurt or even killed. The warning comes as part of the Lighter Nights campaign launched last month to crackdown on anti-social behaviour – including youngsters starting deliberate fires.
Watch manager at South Shields fire station, Tony Brew, said: “For every grass fire we attend, a vital machine and crew is being tied up.
“We can only be in one place at one time.
“If another call comes in, then it will be up to Hebburn to respond. If they are also busy, we would be looking at a crew coming from outside the borough.
“How would a young person feel if it were their parents’ house that was on fire but we couldn’t get there because we were tied up putting out a grass fire they had started?”
Parents are now being asked to speak to their children and highlight the dangers the kids are creating for themselves and others by setting fire to grass.
Mr Brew added: “As well as putting the lives of residents at risk by tying up valuable resources, they are also putting themselves in danger.
“If the conditions are right, grass fires have the potential to spread very quickly and can easily trap the person who started it.”
The Lighter Nights initiative is a joint venture between Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police, South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Homes.
The campaign was launched in response to an increase in bad behaviour and anti-social fires as the lighter nights arrive.
Firefighters are also calling on people to report any rubbish, which can be used to spark blazes, to the council or to the fire service, so it can be removed.