Warning over fires that can 'get quickly out of control' after blaze near White Horse at Marsden in South Shields
Emergency services have issued a stark warning over deliberate fires after a blaze at a nature reserve in South Tyneside.
Firefighters were scrambled to tackle flames near the landmark White Horse rock painting at the Marsden Old Quarry nature reserve during the evening of Friday, April 16.
Images taken as the fire began to grow showed flames spreading across the grassland area, with the blaze visible from nearby homes.
The old quarry is a popular hangout spot, and signs of small fires can often be seen in the area.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said it was still working to establish the cause of the incident on Friday night.
But the service has issued warning of deliberate fires over the coming months, when the lighter nights and warmer weather traditionally see increases in incidents.
The service warned even small fires could be liable to ‘get out of control’ amid the drier and warmer conditions of the summer months, even if they are of a non-malign nature, such as disposable barbecues, or small in scale.
A spokesperson said: “This type of fire can be extremely dangerous especially around this time of year when dry conditions can see fires spreading rapidly to other fields, woodlands and in severe cases to neighbouring properties.
"We would always urge people not to play around with matches, flammable materials or have barbeques in secluded grassland areas where there is a strong risk of small fires getting out of control and putting people and wildlife at risk.
“People can anonymously report any suspicious fires by calling 0800 169 5558 or by visiting the Firestoppers website.”
The incident on Friday night was attended by a crew from South Shields Community Fire Station.
The fire and rescue service said a call came in at 8.48pm to reports of a bush fire on the bridal path close to the White Horse painting.
Firefighters used fire beaters to put out the blaze which was said to have affected 10 square metres of grassland in total, and crews left the scene at 9.14pm.