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Outcry over house fires; GOSCOTE: Arson at derelict homes 'putting lives at risk'.

Byline: By Dale Williams

ANGRY fire chiefs have warned lives are being put at risk by vandals who are targeting derelict houses and setting them alight.

Crews from Bloxwich and Walsall were called to a fire at a semi-detached property, which is due to be demolished, in Shakespeare Crescent, in the Goscote area at 11.10 last night.

It is believed the offenders got in through a hole in the roof or an open first-floor landing window and set the loft on fire, destroying the roof space as a result.

Leading firefighter Richard Elliott, from Bloxwich Station, said they have dealt with a number of fires in derelict houses in Shakespeare Crescent and surrounding streets over the last 12 months.

He said: "Scaffolding has been put up along the house ready for demolition but we believe those responsible climbed up that and got in through the roof, where tiles have already been removed.

"These houses are very dangerous places for people to go in - that includes both us and those starting the fires.

"It is very dark in the properties, there are floorboards missing in rooms and it is only a matter of time before someone falls and is seriously injured or worse.

"The fires in this area are an on-going situation for us and we are doing all we can in the area to try and stop them.

"We are also working closely with the police and the housing associations to try to get the houses knocked down as soon as possible. These incidents are also an unnecessary strain on our resources - last night half of the borough's fire fighting resources were deployed at Shakespeare Crescent.

"We could end up with a situation where there is a serious fire elsewhere, with lives at risk, but we've been called to a derelict house arson attack again."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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