Fears over youths setting fire to trees with 'blow torches and petrol' in South Shields' Temple Park

Safety concerns have been raised at a South Shields park over reports of youths setting trees alight with “blow torches and petrol”.

Temple Park, a popular spot with walkers and families, has been blighted by deliberate fires in the past.

In February last year, firefighters tackled 11 grass fires on parkland in the space of seven days.

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This week, fresh concerns were raised by councillors following more reports of fires at the site.

File picture of the aftermath of grass fires in Temple Park in 2020File picture of the aftermath of grass fires in Temple Park in 2020
File picture of the aftermath of grass fires in Temple Park in 2020

“It’s got a bit more sophisticated in that the youths concerned are on bicycles using blow torches and petrol to set fire to the trees ,” Coun Doreen Purvis said.

“Apart from the fact that it destroys what is a nice nature reserve, it’s dangerous to wildlife but it’s also the thought of kids harming themselves.

“We have given [the fire service] intelligence before that has enabled them to contact the culprits, visit them and try and engage.

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“But this is another worrying aspect. People who use Temple Park for walking or just enjoying nature are quite disturbed about it.

“I’m disturbed from the point of view of the danger these young people could be in.”

Coun Purvis was speaking at Thursday’s (January 23) meeting of the West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF) during an update from fire chiefs.

The Whiteleas councillor said she received a report from a resident about the incident on Wednesday.

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While praising the work of the fire service, she called for action to tackle the issue “before somebody gets hurt.”

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it was called to a fire in Temple Park at around 7.12pm last night (January 22) and sent a pump from the John Reid Road station.

Station manager for Hebburn and South Shields, Trevor Sturrock, told councillors he would work with police to increase patrols in the area.

“If you have any intelligence or names please contact us,” he told the meeting.

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“It will be one or two individuals, it’s a minority who are doing the majority of the illegal fire setting.”

Whiteleas councillor, Bill Brady added: “We’re talking about putting money aside and the council and other councils are planting trees because of global warming.

“And here’s young people running along and burning them down.”

Last year, several North East fire services, including Tyne and Wear, launched a service for people to provide information on deliberate fires anonymously.

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Reports made through the ‘FireStoppers’ scheme are passed on to the police for investigation.

To report information about deliberate fires call 0800-169-5558 or visit: www.firestoppersreport.co.uk