Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Bonfire Blitz

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Bonfire Blitz

Article excerpt

Byline: Michelle Ruane

Fire chiefs have launched a bid to stamp out illegal bonfires - but for some residents, Bonfire Night misery has already started.

Last year firefighters dealt with 310 illegal bonfires across the brigade area - each costing taxpapers about pounds 350.

Brigade bosses have now joined forces with police and the four councils - Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland and Hartlepool - to tackle illegal bonfires and illegal sales of fireworks.

George Crooks, of Cleveland Fire Brigade's arson task force, said: "We are targeting the removal of illegal bonfires, with help from partners such as community wardens, the police and the public."

People living in Park End are among those already suffering the misery of an illegal bonfire.

Rubbish was piled up and set alight on land facing Margrove Walk.

Youths have since been collecting more rubbish to burn on the already charred grass, including a wheelie bin, bed base and an armchair.

One concerned resident said: "They started a fire on Tuesday and since then they've been building the bonfire back up, using anything they can find.

"It's a mess. But if it's all taken away they'll just do it again."

A neighbour added: "It can be a waste of time if the bonfire is taken down. They just come back and build another one.

"They'll keep doing it until the end of November."

Mr Crooks, from the arson task force, said: "No-one wants to spoil Bonfire Night for youngsters, but the community should be aware of the dangers and cost associated with lighting bonfires illegally on public ground not authorised by the local authority. …

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