Number of deliberate fires in north-east soars

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The number of deliberate fires in the north-east has soared over the past 12 months.

A new report from the fire service has revealed there was a 37% increase from 183 to 251 incidents in Aberdeenshire when compared with last year.

The figures, which cover April 2018 to March 2019, also show a 46% increase on the three-year rolling average, from 172 to 251.

Meanwhile the number of accidental fires has stayed relatively steady, with a reduction of just one, from 164 to 163.

In April, thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to the Rockfish Takeaway and the Retreat Hair and Beauty Salon, in Whitehills, after vandals started a blaze behind the buildings.

And on Boxing Day last year, a crane was set on fire at a construction site for the £350million Aberdeen Harbour development.

Just days prior, on Christmas Eve, a fire was started board Gordon and couple’s new boat was torched in Boddam Harbour.

North East MSP Lewis Macdonald said the increase signalled a “disturbing trend”.

© DC Thomson
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald

He said: “Deliberate fire-raising always puts people and property in danger and therefore is always an irresponsible thing to do.

“I hope that anyone who is aware of people engaged in the activity make sure the police of who they are.

“Not only is it a waste of public money, resources and firefighters’ time, but it’s putting people at risk therefore it’s deplorable.”

Shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said the figures were “really concerning”.

“Clearly the police and fire service need to have every support in order to tackle this worrying trend.”

The report, which will go before councillors on Thursday, states: “In Aberdeenshire, evidence reflects that deliberate fires are a problem in specific areas that can be linked to antisocial behaviour.

“Partnership working is key to reducing this type of incident and with the assistance of partners and communities we will target resources to areas that are identified as having a higher number of deliberate fires or antisocial behaviour.”

The report further breaks down the incidents into 187 primary blazes, which involved burning grass and rubbish.

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The remainder that occurred were primary fires and these included 19 at HMP Grampian, 10 woodland fires, six where cars were torched and five “outdoor structures” as well as house and flat fires.

The statistics are contained within a report which will be discussed by the council’s communities committee.

Earlier this year, a similar report was published which showed an increase in Aberdeen, from 315 to 370, when compared with the same six month period in 2018.