Ten car fires a week putting lives at risk in Tyne and Wear, figures show
More than 500 vehicles were torched deliberately in Tyne and Wear in one year, fire service figures show.
Over the course of a decade, fire crews in the area were called out to over 4,000 deliberate vehicle fires – 514 of them last year.
Arsonists torching vehicles are putting lives at risk and taking up time and resources from already stretched services, according to the Fire Brigades Union and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
Data released by the Home Office shows that vehicle fires accounted for around 11% of all deliberate blazes in the area last year.
NFCC chair Mark Hardingham said: “Deliberate fires - of any sort - put people at risk because they divert crews away from other incidents, where lives could be on the line.
"Car fires are usually classed as ‘secondary’ but these can soon escalate into more serious incidents.”
He added: "The nature of car fires also put crews at risk as they can pose difficulties and become complex, dependent of the type of fuel.”
A spokeswoman from the Fire Brigades Union said: “The fire service is a vital public service and, no matter what the incident or the cause, firefighters will always be there to respond.
"However, deliberately caused fires use up valuable time and resources of an already over-stretched service."
Home Office Fire Minister Stephen Greenhalgh said the Government supported the fire sector, which is expected to receive £2.3bn in 2021-22.
He added: "Deliberate fire setting is a crime that puts our brave firefighters and the public in unnecessary danger."