Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Burning Hills Drama

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Burning Hills Drama

Article excerpt

Byline: Lyndsay Emmett And Ron Livingstone

Devastating blazes that left a pall of smoke over Teesside and tied up half of the area's firefighting resources for six hours were being blamed on children today.

About 50 firefighters were needed to fight a string of fires on Eston Hills.

Smoke hung across Teesside as yesterday's blazes destroyed two square miles of moorland.

Incident commander, Assistant Divisional Officer Andy Witham, said 12 fire engines were called to the scene - the Cleveland brigade has 23.

And Grangetown Station Officer Trevor Moody said the fires were probably set by children. He said: "There is no doubt about it - it was started deliberately.

"The majority of fires up there are. Unfortunately, with the school holidays, it is running rampage this year.

"We need to get the message over that what might seem fun to them is using up our resources when they could be needed elsewhere.

"I think smoke covered most of Teesside last night."

And he stressed that even if rain forecast for the weekend arrives, the fires have now become so deep-seated, they may flare up even after a downpour.

People are being warned to take extra care when they are out and about in the area over the Easter weekend.

ADO Witham said: "We had to devote a vast amount of resources to these fires, and while it is important as an area of natural beauty, at the end of the day it is only grass.

"There could have been a major incident somewhere else and the firefighters would have been tied up here."

Crews from Grangetown, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Thornaby, Stockton, Coulby Newham, Marine, Loftus and Saltburn attended.

The alarm was raised at about 3.25pm yesterday.

Three major seats of fire and many other small ones were discovered.

Crews set about beating the blazes down and used a bowser, which can hold 1,000 gallons of water. …

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