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Firefighters attacked by hooligan teenagers.

Byline: By Helen Rae

Fire crews were forced to call police for help after they were attacked by yobs.

A gang of teenagers pelted firefighters with large stones as they tried to tackle a series of skip fires at the West Denton shopping centre in Newcastle.

Crews were called to the shopping outlets after rubbish in several nearby skips was set alight.

When they arrived at 6.50pm on Thursday, they were surrounded by half-a-dozen 15 to 16-year-olds who began throwing missiles at them.

Kevin Marley of the West Denton station said: "We were called to the shopping centre because there were as many as five skips on fire.

"When we arrived we spotted a group of youths standing on the pathway watching us and thought there might be a bit of trouble.

"As we started tackling the fires the youngsters began throwing stones at us.

"We attempted to chase them away but they continued to be a nuisance."

As the crew left the scene the youths were standing at a bus station and again started throwing stones, hitting the fire engine's door and window.

Mr Marley added: "When youths throw stones it's very dangerous ( they could not only injure a firefighter, but it also makes it difficult for us to do our jobs.

"At least once a week crews from a fire station in the region experience some sort of yob attack and it takes a lot out of our resources.

"We are regularly forced to call the police.

"Any youth seen pelting stones at a fire crew will be prosecuted."

Alan McLean, the North East executive council member, said: "The job of a firefighter is dangerous enough in itself without crews having to deal with extra hazards.

"If a firefighter who is tackling a blaze is having to look out for people who are throwing missiles then his life is being put in danger.

"Unfortunately it's a growing problem and it's not something crews can train or prepare for.

"People need to be educated that when stones are thrown the effect and strain on the firefighters is huge, and if it continues to happen we will see some fatalities in the future because of it."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 6, 2007
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