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Deliberate setting of grass fires

South Wales Fire and Rescue are currently attending multiple grass fire incidents across South Wales. These include grass fires that continue to burn in the area of Twmbarlwm many of which are being treated as deliberate.

With the support of our Police partners and Natural Resources Wales we have been implementing the use of helicopters and drones in this area, and at other sites across South Wales.  With the helicopters providing operational support, ongoing drone use and frequent patrols in areas of risk are helping us monitor suspicious activity, identify criminal acts and gather intelligence to support future prosecutions.

Insp Stephen Drayton, of Gwent Police, said: “These fires have been burning for a number of weeks now, and are having a significant impact on our local environment and wildlife.

“Deliberately starting a grass fire is a serious offence, and will not be tolerated in Gwent. We are seeking the public’s help so we can identify offenders, in order to bring them to justice and prevent them from committing similar offences again in the area.

“If you have any information or observe suspicious behaviour in the area, please contact us on 101, if you have information on the Twmbarlwm incident quote reference 320 of 14/07/18 but please come forward with any information around any grass fires you may have seen being started. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

As a result of verbal abuse and antisocial behaviour impacting on the response of emergency services and their partners to grass fires in the vicinity of Twmbarlwm, near Risca, Gwent Police have issued a 48-hour dispersal order for the area.

The order came into effect at 5pm on Thursday, 26thJuly 2018, and runs until 5pm on Saturday, 28thJuly 2018.

 Officers will be operating high visibility patrols in the area and will have the authority to direct anyone behaving or suspected of behaving in an antisocial manner from the area. If they return to that area after being moved on, they face being arrested.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Richard Prendergast states “I am really proud of how hard our crews have worked over the past several weeks to deal with this range of challenging incidents. We appreciate all of the support we have had from partner agencies and our communities. While the high instances of fires that we are currently experiencing is challenging to us we are still able to provide a normal high level of service to the public of South Wales.”

The impact of grass fires is devastating on the environment killing animals and destroying wildlife habitat as we have already seen in multiple areas across South Wales.

Steve Morgan, Head of South East Wales Operations for Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Wildfires pose a serious risk to our officers, the firefighters who have to tackle them, local wildlife and the people living and working in the area.

“The effects of the fire at Cwmcarn are devastating, with more than 200 hectares of woodland destroyed, including tens of thousands of newly planted trees.

“Any wildlife in the path of the fire will most likely have been killed and their habitat and food sources destroyed. Populations of some species of plants and animals may take years to recover.

“In addition, with forest and mountain bike trails having to close, it continues to leave a damaging economic impact on the area’s businesses and tourism, while the surrounding communities have to suffer the visible effects of the fire on the landscape.”

They also create additional strain on resources such as water supplies. During the current heatwave where water is in short supply the ongoing incidents draw away valuable resources from the public.

Managing Director of Welsh Water, Peter Perry, said: “As well as the significant burden on resources of the emergency services, tackling these fires is diverting valuable drinking water supplies at a time when we’re experiencing some of the hottest weather on record.

 “While we are working flat out to maintain supplies as normal during the dry spell, pumping more than a billion litres a day into our network and with 450 people working seven days a week to find and repair leaks on our network, we need everyone to help us in this effort.

“Deliberate fires undermine the great efforts customers go to use their water efficiently, so we would encourage anyone who has suspicions about a deliberate fire to contact 101 with any information.

We continue to work collaboratively with all our partner agencies and we will continue to investigate all fire incidents, fully supporting and prosecute anyone caught starting a wildfire.

 

Once again we would urge anyone who has information on grass fires, or who sees anything suspicious to contact 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.  If you see a grass fire, or anyone starting a grass fire, please call 999 immediately.