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CREWS ON GRASS FIRE HIGH ALERT; Firefighters want YOUR help to stop spike in blazes.

Byline: PHILIP DEWEY Reporter

FIREFIGHTERS across Wales are on grass fire alert as the school holidays bring the prospect of a new round of mountain blazes to tackle.

In April, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) alone battled almost 1,000 deliberate grass fires.

The huge number of fires was put down to a combination of a long spell of dry weather and the Easter holidays.

With the half-term, the fire service is preparing for another spike and - encouraging communities to be vigilant.

On Friday evening, firefighters were forced to tackle a number of grass fires near Treorchy and Abercynon in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Ebbw Vale in Bleanau Gwent.

A spokesman from the fire service said the fires were "tying up resources".

Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer for SWFRS, said: "As a service, we recognise the impact deliberate grass fires have on the communities of South Wales and we continue to direct our resources to prevent these fires occurring in the first place.

"This type of incident can no longer be seen as 'risk free fun' and the service is committed to working with our communities to change this culture through engaging hearts and minds.

"We are urging our communities to think about the consequences of deliberate fire setting and the impact on the countryside and wildlife, as well as the risks to our fire-fighters and their safety when tackling these incidents.

"Deliberate grass fires are an act of arson, which is a serious crime and we work closely with both police services to bring those responsible to justice."

Dave Bents, duty manager at SWFRS, said they would continue to monitor the situation and if there was an escalation during the school holidays they would react to it.

Mid and West Wales Fire Service (MWWFS) was called out to deal with a grass fire in the Abergwesyn area on Wednesday as well as fighting fires in Fforestfach and the Swansea Vale area on Thursday.

A spokesman from the service said deliberate grass fires have actually been on the decline over the past two years in the region.

Chris Howells, station manager at Swansea Fire Station, believes this is due to the fire service visiting schools and educating youngsters.

He said: "We have done a lot in schools and education.

"There have been a few small grass fires as per normal but nothing out of the ordinary.

"The weather conditions leading up to this half-term are different to Easter time because the grass is greener and less dry."

North Wales Fire Service (NWFS) have called on people in the community to help.

Kevin Jones, Arson Reduction manager at NWFS, said: "We witnessed a spate of deliberate fires over the Easter holidays and to combat this problem we are appealing again to the community to help us ensure the numbers of deliberate fires are kept to a minimum over the Whitsun break when youngsters will again be off school.

"My appeal is directed in particular to parents and guardians. Please try to be more aware of the whereabouts of your children and impress upon them the fact that deliberate fires endanger lives.

"Stop and think about the consequences - it could be you or a member of your family that requires our assistance and we may not be able to get to you as quickly or as easily as we would like because we have to deal with a deliberate fire."

| Contact the fire brigade or |police on 101 if you have information about a grass fire.

Fire crews tackle a grass fire in Abercynon
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 24, 2015
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